$19.9 million budget adopted by community college board carries tuition increase

January 29, 1995|By Suzanne Loudermilk | Suzanne Loudermilk,Sun Staff Writer

The Harford Community College Board of Trustees has approved a $19.9 million operating budget for 1995-1996 amid concerns about declining enrollment and a possible cutback in funds from the county.

The budget represents a 10 percent increase over this year's spending plan. Tuition will increase by $2 per credit hour, raising the cost to $58 per credit hour.

"We will continue to run operations effectively and meet the challenge of the drop in enrollment and the reversion of funds if necessary," W. Stephen Pannill, acting college president, told the board Thursday.

The college's unofficial student enrollment was 4,519 as of Jan. 22, a 10.5 percent decrease from last year's spring enrollment of 5,043.

Mr. Pannill said Maryland's other community colleges also are experiencing enrollment declines, which he attributes to the economy. "We're assessing what we're doing," he assured the board, adding that a mid-year budget review was under way.

The enrollment decline is expected to be temporary and the number of high school graduates in the county are projected to increase, Mr. Pannill said. About 60 percent of the county's graduating seniors traditionally attend the community college.

Mr. Pannill told the board that County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann has asked county departments and agencies to examine their current budgets for possible cutbacks.

"Fortunately, this institution has held back on some of its institutional priorities," he said. "The difficulty with reversion is that we desperately need the funds to carry forth the college's initiatives."

Those initiatives -- including the Higher Education and Applied Technology (HEAT) Center and other technology at the college -- are evident in the approved budget, which was sent Friday to Mrs. Rehrmann for review before it goes to the County Council.

The college's top priority is the HEAT Center, a planned high-technology campus and industrial park near Aberdeen. The first academic building, offering four-year college degrees and master's programs, is scheduled to open in June.

In the proposed budget, $78,000 of the $1.8 million budgeted for priorities is for HEAT equipment.

The bulk of the budget -- $18.1 million -- reflects the base amount that is required to run the college campus, said Greg Muolo, acting vice president of administration and finance. A 2 percent salary increase for most employees is included, he said.

"This budget is very solid," said Patricia A. Perluke, vice chairwoman of the trustees, after reviewing the proposal.

"It is what we should do," said the Rev. Charles E. Copeland Sr., a board member. "It's a nebulous thing as to what is going to

happen politically around the state."

The state's contribution makes up 21.8 percent, or $4.3 million of the college's budget. The county is the largest contributor, with 44.6 percent, or $8.9 million.

Student tuition and fees make up 32.2 percent, or $6.4 million of the 1996 budget.

About 1.4 percent of the budget comes from revenues such as lease arrangements and certificates of deposit, Mr. Muolo said.

The college could receive possibly $77,000 less from the state if the funding formula is adjusted, Mr. Muolo said. Or it could get an infusion of money if Gov. Parris N. Glendening's budget recommendation is approved.

Mr. Glendening has requested a one-time $5 million package for the state's 18 community colleges to be distributed equally for instructional equipment, Mr. Pannill said. The legislature's decision probably won't be known until the General Assembly ends its session in Annapolis on April 10, he said.

By June 1, the trustees will know how much money they can expect from the county, the acting president said.

"We have a lot of hard work to do," Mr. Pannill told the board. "We will have to be creative to meet the needs of the students and citizens of Harford County."

Also at the meeting:

* The trustees approved the design of a $3 million, 24,000-square-foot classroom building on campus near the Edgewood Hall Apprenticeship and Training Center, which opened this month. The college expects to start construction on the building in the spring of 1996.

* Mrs. Perluke said the search for a college president is continuing and board members are visiting the campuses of the four finalists.

* Mr. Pannill said Baltimore Auxiliary Bishop John H. Ricard will speak May 21 at the college's 37th commencement ceremony. The bishop was chosen by the students, he said, adding, "I couldn't be more pleased with their choice."

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