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HCC requests $9 million for general, capital improvement budget

March 22, 2006|by TIFFANY ARNOLD

Hagerstown Community College is asking the county for $9 million, about the same amount it requested last year.

HCC president Guy Altieri made the school's pitch for funds Tuesday during the Board of Trustees' annual meeting with the Washington County Commissioners.

HCC officials asked the county to set aside $6.9 million for the college's proposed $23.6 million general fund budget. The request is 15 percent more than the $6 million it asked for last year, according to HCC records.

The college also requested $2.1 million for its proposed $10.8 million Capital Improvement Projects budget - more than half of last year's $4 million request, according to HCC records.

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Commissioners were unable to say whether they could realistically provide all the money to HCC.

"We have to review all the budget requests coming in," Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said after the meeting.

Snook said the commissioners would know how much they're willing to allocate in about a month. A public hearing on that decision is scheduled for May 9, Snook said.

As in past years, HCC is asking the county to fund a bigger share of its general fund budget.

"We'd like local contributions to be closer to 33 percent, the state average," Altieri said, referring to the average county contribution among the state's 16 community colleges.

Last year, county money accounted for 28 percent of the school's overall revenue. The state gave $5.3 million, or 25 percent.

Student money - about $9.8 million - accounted for about 47 percent of the school's revenue, HCC officials said.

HCC's request would bring the county's share to 29 percent this year, according to HCC figures.

Student money will still provide most of the school's revenue next year. The proposed budget projects that tuition and fees will contribute $10.6 million, or 45 percent of its revenue.

Last year, officials overestimated the amount of money the student revenue would generate. As a result, the board had to cut the school's current $22 million budget by 1.5 percent, or $325,178.

Officials are expecting enrollment to grow by at least 5 percent next year.

The Maryland Higher Education Commission considers HCC to be the fastest-growing community college in the state.

HCC's proposed budget also calls for a tuition hike. The board approved the hike Tuesday, increasing the $89-per-credit tuition to $93.

HCC students are paying about $3,000 in tuition and fees, 47 percent more than what students were paying in 1996, according to HCC data.

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