President expects HCC to weather cuts

October 18, 1992|By Sherrie Ruhl | Sherrie Ruhl,Staff Writer

Harford Community College won't raise tuition, cut programs, reduce staff or limit enrollment as a result of the loss of $1.5 million in state aid, college officials say.

HCC's president, Richard J. Pappas, had warned that a $1.5 million state spending cut could force such measures.

But Thursday night, after learning the state bite for 1992-93 is expected to amount to more than $1.5 million, Mr. Pappas said HCC could absorb the anticipated cut through less-extreme belt-tightening.

For example, he told the college's trustees, HCC could cope with the cut by freezing hiring, delaying maintenance, putting off purchases of new equipment and requiring students to buy more class materials now given to them.

"What we don't want to do is cut positions, furlough employees or disrupt services to students," Mr. Pappas told the nine trustees.

The recent $1.5 million cut will bring to $3.4 million the amount of state aid HCC has lost in three years. The college's budget totals $16 million.

Leland Sanborn, president of the board of trustees, said the expected cut would hurt the college.

"These cuts will keep the college from going forward," he said. "It could change the mission of the college, and we might not be able to educate everybody. We will certainly not be able to grow as we had anticipated."

And, college officials lament, more cuts may be on the way.

A special state legislative session will meet in November to discuss ways to slash an additional $147 million in aid to local governments.

The cuts to each county or subdivision would equal the amount of Social Security taxes the state picks up for teachers, librarians and community college professors. HCC's share is about about $340,000 -- money the college could have to pay, said state Sen. William H. Amoss, D-District 35A.

But Mr. Amoss said the cuts, if approved, would probably be parcelled out at the discretion of county executive, Eileen M. Rehrmann. She could pass on all or some of the $342,000 to HCC, Mr. Amoss said.

Mrs. Rehrmann could not be reached for comment.

So far, the college is doing a good job of trimming its budget, Mr. Amoss said.

"They did not call for raising tuition or cutting programs to students, and that is the important thing," he said. "I think it is a shame that they are deferring maintenance because that

catches up with you, but it's not a matter of life and death. They are trying to get through this year, and I can understand that."

Jeffrey D. Wilson, County Council president, said the college, like other publicly funded organizations, has to make some difficult choices.

"The college is trying to cut back without affecting services to the students," he said. "Mr. Pappas is doing what we are doing at home, turning down the thermostat and spending more carefully."

The 29 items on the college's menu of suggested cuts range from $3,000 saved if students have to buy more of their class materials and get fewer free booklets to $300,000 saved if new and replaced equipment is deferred.

The college believes it can save $6,500 by setting the temperature to 68 degrees in the winter and 77 degrees in the summer. Another $7,000 could be saved if snacks and light meals are eliminated at meetings.

HCC is also considering reducing the amount of vacation pay employees can carry over into another fiscal year, to five days from 15. That would save $60,000 because the college can reduce the amount of money it must keep in reserve to cover those days.

Eleven vacant jobs, including two full-time cleaning vacancies, could be frozen, for a savings of over $190,000.

Five new positions, with a price tag of $84,076, could also be put on hold. These include a full-time instructional assistant in nursing and a half-time faculty member in hospitality.

About $200,000 could be saved if the college puts off building maintenance. That's on top of an estimated $750,000 already saved by delaying scheduled maintenance.

The budget woes forcing HCC to cut services have also made the college more attractive to students because it is cheaper than four-year colleges.

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