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HCC's proposed budget presented to county commissioners

April 03, 2002|BY SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

Hagerstown Community College on Tuesday presented to the Washington County Board of Commissioners a proposed $17.3 million budget that includes a shortfall of at least $185,491 and a 4 percent tuition increase.

To address the shortfall, the county may call for a 5 percent tuition hike, College Board of Trustees Chairman William Reuter said. The college will have to consider not funding some planned new positions and take another look at other expenses, Reuter said.

The proposed $17.3 million spending plan is a $1.1 million increase over the current fiscal year's $16.2 million budget.

The HCC budget anticipated the county contribution would increase by $285,491.

The commissioners' budget had called for giving the college $4.6 million, the same amount the county provided in the current fiscal year.

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A revised county budget draft given to the commissioners Tuesday after HCC's budget presentation calls for giving the college $100,000 more than it got in the current fiscal year.

Reuter said the college appreciates the county considering an increase.

If the commissioners approve the $100,000 increase for HCC, the college's shortfall will be $185,491. If it is not approved, the shortfall will be $285,491.

Reuter said the shortfall is a result of the county's smaller than anticipated increase as well as state cutbacks, Reuter said.

Gov. Parris Glendening has proposed a $15.4 million cut in funds to the state's 15 two-year colleges for the 2003 fiscal year, which begins July 1. The 8.6 percent cut would bring total state aid to community colleges down from $174.9 million to $159.5 million.

As a result, HCC would receive $5.1 million from the state, or $456,000 less than the $5.57 million it had anticipated. That amount could change since the state budget has not been approved.

HCC raised tuition for the current school year by $4 per credit for county students, from $70 to $74. Out-of-county students paid $5 more, from $114 a credit to $119. Out-of-state students saw a $13 increase, from $143 to $156.

A 4 percent tuition hike would increase county students' tuition by $3 per credit, or $77. Out-of-county students would pay $5 more, or $124 per credit. Out-of-state students would pay $7 more, or $163 per credit.

Under the proposed fees, HCC's tuition revenue would increase from $4.2 million this fiscal year to $4.8 million in the coming fiscal year, according to the budget.

The budget includes a 4 percent to 6 percent salary increase for college faculty and staff. An independent study has shown the college is not paying its employees enough, Reuter said.

The county faces a tight budget and has just $3.4 million in new revenue to distribute among all groups that receive county money, including the Washington County Board of Education. The county's budget calls for giving the Board of Education a $1.4 million increase.

A $100,000 increase for HCC is about a 2 percent hike, the same percentage increase the county is giving to the Board of Education, Commission President Gregory I. Snook said.

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