Saying they already are keeping the college open with volunteer help, Anne Arundel Community College officials Tuesday approved a lean $29.9 million operating budget.

That number represents an increase of less than 0.4 percent above this year's $29.8 million budget.

As part of the budget package adopted Tuesday night, county students at AACC would pay $2 more per credit hour, up from $42, and registration fees per semester would increase from $5 to $20.

"We have no choice but to increase tuition and fees if we are going to continue to support a growing student population and retain an open admission policy," President Thomas E. Florestano said. "There will be no newmoney from the county next year, and we fully expect a reduction in funds from the state."

And for the first time, the college seeks to charge registration fees to senior citizens. A $10 per-term registration fee for seniors is expected to generate about $30,000.

The tuition increase is expected to bring in $360,000, while $400,000 fromthe new registration fees would help pay for transcript processing, student registration and additional security guards on campus parkinglots.

"It's a tight budget, nothing should be controversial aboutit," said Anthony Pappas, vice president for student services. "We're looking at very little increase from the county."

Enrollment is expected to increase 3 percent. Officials also see a potential increase in part-time enrollment, as people laid off from work seek career counseling and enroll in skill-related courses.

The streamlined budget, which must be approved by both the county executive and council, includes only one new full-time faculty position, to be assigned tothe new radiological technology program. Contracted services would be reduced by nearly 23 percent, primarily due to the transfer of somespecialized classroom operations from a private facility near Baltimore-Washington International Airport to county-owned buildings in Glen Burnie.

Salaries and benefits, at $24.7 million, make up 85 percent of the budget. The package contains a step increase of 4 percent for eligible employees and a 5 percent increase in insurance benefits.

The college is expecting $8.1 million from the state, $9.8 million from tuition and fees and $12 million from the county.

"The modest increases contained in this budget will only work in the short term," Dean of Administration Edgar Mallick warned.

The college is still reeling from a $600,000 cutback in state aid in January, which left faculty and staff to provide some services without pay. Pappas said layoffs at the college are still not of the question.

"Every community college got hit," he said. "We were fortunate that Anne Arundel County didn't take any money from us. Some community colleges had money taken away by the county as well. But we are still facing a very serious problem."

Pappas said he and about 20 other faculty members are teaching courses without pay, and others are volunteering time to keep the library open Sundays.

"I think it's important to recognize that the tight budget has put pressure on the faculty, staff and students this fiscal year," he said. "We've had to really hunker down."

The County Council is scheduled to adopt a countywide operating budget in May.

Copyright © 2021, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad