THE BALTIMORE COUNTY Community College Board of Trustees last week presented the County Council with an $80 million budget that includes $1.15 million for a free-standing child care building at Dundalk Community College.
But Dundalk already has a child care facility in one of its buildings, and Chancellor Daniel J. LaVista has described the school as "overbuilt." Nonetheless, the board said, Dundalk must have a free-standing child care facility because it is the only one of the county's three community colleges that doesn't.
Also being sought is $1.5 million for an addition to the Dundalk college library. It's to handle growing enrollment, the board said. Except enrollment at Dundalk is dropping.
No agency or department should be able to get away with such irresponsible budgeting at a time when money is so tight that the county government can't offer cost-of-living raises, must close day care centers for frail old people and is forcing all but a few top-priority departments to do with less.
The board of trustees last week promised to start saving money and get its house in order. But nearly a year after hiring Dr. LaVista to eliminate wasteful spending, it has given the County Council little reason to be confident that it can or will do that.
The college system has just barely recovered from a series of foolish decisions -- hiring more high-level administrators, providing trustees with home computers, paying full-time faculty double what part-timers make for teaching summer courses -- that seem out-of-step in these financial times. The savings plan the board finally settled on is designed to save $1.3 million in fiscal 1997, but it's short on details. The board is begging the council not to cut the county's contribution because that would forfeit $536,000 in state funds. Yet the board has included in its budget $445,000 of the state money, which came as a surprise award at the end of the legislative session. The board prematurely curtailed discussion of a Dundalk-Essex campus merger or of saving on administrative costs by making the three schools satellites of a single community college.
There's no reason the council should spare the college if it can't do a better job of justifying expenditures than it did last week.
Pub Date: 5/13/96