With county and state funding on record, Harford Community College has $50.4M projected budget for FY2019

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A $50.4 million operating budget for Harford Community College is projected for fiscal 2019, now that the state’s budget has been approved and Harford County Executive Barry Glassman has submitted his proposed county budget for next year.

College officials plan to cap a for-credit tuition increase at 2 percent, and a 3 percent pay increase is proposed for full and part-time employees, according to a presentation made to the board of trustees at their May 8 meeting.

The proposed operating budget, revised from the $51.3 million request HCC President Dianna Phillips presented to the board of trustees last December, was reviewed by the board last week, along with a proposed $77.9 million six-year capital improvement program.

College officials are requesting $7.3 million for capital projects in fiscal 2019, including $6.2 million for a major renovation of the 20-year-old Fallston Hall. Funding has also been requested, starting in fiscal 2020, to renovate and expand the Chesapeake Center to create a welcome center for students and visitors, according to budget documents and Katie Callan, senior associate vice president for administration, operations and project management.

Board chair Richard Norling said the trustees will vote on the operating and capital budgets during their June meeting, as the Harford County Council has not yet voted on next year’s county budget.

“We know what County Executive Barry Glassman has proposed ... we need to wait until the County Council actually passes the budget,” Norling said.

Tuition increases, state and county funds

Phillips’ budget for HCC was submitted with a 2.7 percent increase in tuition, but the increase has since been capped at 2 percent, meaning a $2.42 per-credit hour increase.

In-county tuition would increase to $129 per credit hour, $219.52 for people who live outside Harford County and $310.04 for out-of-state residents. The consolidated student fee rate will remain the same at 20 percent of in-county tuition.

College officials anticipated late last year that state funding would decline next year, but it will increase by 2.71 percent, from $11.66 million this year to $11.98 million next year, according to budget documents. The increase includes a one-time incentive of $98,131 for capping the tuition increase at 2 percent, Brenda Morrison, chief of staff and vice president for external relations and communications, told the trustees.

She said the board had approved the 2 percent cap in February. The Maryland General Assembly approved a $44.5 billion state budget — which includes greater funding for higher education and incentives for two and four-year institutions to hold down tuition increases — in late March, The Baltimore Sun reported.

State aid covers 23.8 percent of HCC’s budget next year; Harford County funding follows at 33.3 percent, and tuition and fees make up the largest chunk at 41.3 percent, according to documents.

Tuition and fees are expected to generate $20.82 million next year, a 2.58 percent increase from $20.29 million this year. Morrison said the revenue is expected to be “flat” next year, as officials project students will enroll for 114,600 credit hours next year, down from earlier projections of more than 116,000 credit hours.

The remaining 1.6 percent of revenue is covered by “other” sources, such as facility rentals and investment income. The other sources are expected to jump by nearly 25 percent, from $647,773 this year to $809,023 next year, according to budget documents.

“[It’s] mainly due to strong numbers on our interest income because of the economic recovery, as well as [an] increase in interest rates,” Morrison said.

College officials anticipate $16.81 million in county funding, a $400,000 increase from this year, based on Glassman’s budget. Phillips’ initial budget request called for $17.6 million from the county, in part to cover “parity” with an anticipated 4 percent salary increase for county government employees.

Glassman plans a 2 percent cost of living adjustment, or COLA, for all county employees, plus a $2,000 merit-based increase for eligible full-time employees. He has allocated additional funding for salary increases for Harford County Sheriff’s Office deputies, public schools teachers, library system employees and workers with the Circuit Court and State’s Attorney’s Office.

HCC salary increase

Morrison said HCC sought “pay parity” from the county, and while it did not receive that, the college did receive a $400,000 funding increase from the county, which helps support the proposed salary increase for its employees.

She said a 3 percent pay increase is proposed, at a cost of $885,000. The college has 1,095 employees, including 99 full-time faculty members, as of fiscal 2017, according to the HCC website.

The pay increase is offset by additional county funding, as well as other measures such as health insurance savings, cuts in other areas of the budget and deferring capital maintenance projects, according to Morrison.

“We feel that our employees have worked exceptionally hard, and this is something that has been earned, so we are recommending adjustments to make sure a 3 percent raise can be offered,” she said.

Savings, new investments

The college is realizing savings through restructuring the Office of Academic Affairs, according to Morrison. Changes include combining some divisions, centralization of operations, such as budgets and scheduling, reallocating 11 positions, created “additional opportunities” for faculty members within 12 positions, given added responsibilities to those in seven more positions and even created one new position — a dean of teaching, learning and innovation.

“We are really taking a look at the academic affairs unit of the college, we’re looking at the operations of the unit,” Phillips said.

The college president said many operations will be centralized in the office of Steven Thomas, vice president for academic affairs.

Phillips said Thomas and his staff “will be able to coordinate with the deans to make sure that we’re operating across each division in a comprehensive” manner.

Morrison said the savings from the restructuring will be applied to some additional positions, such as a risk management assistant and an employee to support apprenticeship and internship programs, as well as greater “talent management” in the human resources department and support for grants management.

She stressed throughout the presentation that any position changes must be “budget neutral” to help ensure spending and revenue remains balanced.

Morrison discussed other “strategic additions” in spending, such as more than $70,000 toward the Achieving the Dream student success program, an increase of $30,000 for employee tuition reimbursement and $100,000 more for college athletic teams’ post-season travel.

College officials also plan continued funding support for the My College Success Network, another program designed to improve student achievement, enhancements in software, texting and mobile technology, as well as a “bring your own device” program for students, according to budget documents.

“We’re proud to share with you a balanced budget of $50.4 million,” Morrison told the trustees.

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