Harford Community to raise tuition, despite a budget plan to spend less

May 10, 2012

Harford Community College students could have to pay $8 more per credit hour next year, nearly 10 percent more, even as the college plans to spend less to operate than it expects to spend this year.

HCC officials also plan to spend nearly $12 million in capital building and renovation projections next year to add and upgrade facilities.

The college is anticipating spending $45.6 million to operate in the fiscal year beginning July 1, which is about 1.4 percent less than in the current budget year, John Cox, HCC's vice president for finance, operations and government relations, said at Tuesday evening's monthly HCC Board of Trustees meeting.

"We're looking at a relatively austere budget," Cox told the trustees. "So we're ready for anything they [the state] can throw at us."

That austere budget, Cox told the trustees, doesn't include any salary increases for employees.

As far as the state is concerned, a special session of the Maryland General Assembly is scheduled to begin Monday, prompting some trustees to wonder about the impact some possible outcomes might have on the college, including transferring pension costs back to the local jurisdictions. For the past few years, state legislators have been talking about transferring the pension costs of retired public school educators to the counties as a way to cut the state's budget.

"Community colleges are not yet included in pension funding changes," Cox told the trustees.

Tuition increases are, however, included in HCC's budget to offset state funding cuts. HCC officials originally anticipated increasing tuition by $3 per credit hour from its current $82 but are proposing tod increase it by $8 instead because of continuing state funding cuts.

"Given the final budget outcome of the General Assembly, the Board moved to offset the state funding reduction with the $3 increase in tuition along with approximately $250,000 in spending reductions," Cox wrote in an email response to questions from The Aegis. "Keep in mind that the $5 increase in tuition is intended to supplant previous state and county funding reductions. I'm hoping some or all of the state funding will be restored and we can reduce the increase in tuition. There's no telling how the special session will end, but we're prepared."

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