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Community college board sees budget for first time; Trustees await guidelines of new county executive


It is a budget built around the assumption that John G. Gary would continue as county executive and pump millions of dollars into Anne Arundel Community College, enabling its board of trustees to keep tuition the second-lowest in the state.

Gary lost the November election, and the board, which got its first glimpse at the school's $50.2 million budget yesterday during a brief presentation by college President Martha Smith, is waiting to see whether newly elected County Executive Janet S. Owens will follow Gary's lead.

"In October, we got guidelines from John Gary for this budget," said Gene Floyd, president of the board of trustees. "And we set the budget around that. Now Janet Owens is here, and we haven't heard from her or gotten any guidelines."

Owens has said that her priority is improving education for the county's 74,000 public school children and funding as much of Superintendent Carol S. Parham's $516 million budget as she can. There is no alternative to increasing tuition at the community college, she said.

The county executive cannot order a tuition increase.

The board of trustees could cut programs.

Last night, Owens' spokesman, Andrew C. Carpenter, said the county executive has not seen the college's budget and could not comment on it.

There was no talk of tuition increases during the hourlong hearing at the Wyndham Hotel outside Annapolis.

Afterward, Floyd was vague about whether the board will raise tuition if Owens does not provide the $19.6 million that the college needs to keep tuition at $63 per credit hour. That is $9 less than the state average.

"I am not saying we will," he said. "I am not saying we won't. We think we have offered a conservation budget. There are no new positions. There is not much in the way of an operating budget."

Smith's fiscal 2000 budget plan calls for a continuation of instructional programs, and more computers and software. A plan to construct a 90,000-square-foot building on the west side of the campus is on hold until next year.

College officials have said they want to expand class offerings in the western part of the county, but they have not budgeted money for it.

The only new capital projects are for replacing the Career Building's roof for $340,000 and replacing its elevator for $80,000.

Smith's budget is 9 percent higher than the current $46.2 million operating budget. Last year was the third of a five-year spending plan that the board of trustees worked out with Gary, who directed $63.7 million to the college during his four-year term. That money was used to keep tuition down while the campus expanded into Glen Burnie, technology was updated and partnerships were established with county businesses.

Pub Date: 2/03/99

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