The Harford Community College Board of Trustees has approved a $50.8 million operating budget and $4.2 million capital budget requests for fiscal 2020.
College President Dianna Phillips and her staff have proposed an operating budget that calls for a 1 percent increase in funding from the state, a 2 percent increase from the county and a 3 percent increase in tuition paid by students.
The operating budget is about nine tenths of a percent greater than the $50.42 million budget adopted for the current fiscal year, a difference of $450,212, according to budget documents.
The trustees approved the budget items by unanimous vote on Tuesday. There were no changes made from when the budget proposal was presented to the trustees in December.
Brenda Morrison, chief of state and vice president of external relations and communications, said the proposal was developed using “information that’s available to us as well as the best assumptions we can, to put together our assumptions for revenues and expenses for next year.”
The Harford County and state governments, which provide a combined 57.3 percent of revenues, have not adopted their respective 2020 budgets yet — Morrison said Gov. Larry Hogan is expected to present his budget in the coming weeks.
“We’re optimistic we’re going to receive a 1 percent increase in funding from the state,” Morrison said.
Harford County Executive Barry Glassman typically introduces his budget in the spring, and it is adopted by the County Council in May.
The HCC trustees then review updated budget figures and vote to adopt a budget during their June meeting.
“As we always say, this is our ask to the state and county,” Board of Trustees chair Richard Norling said of the budget request. He noted that, “by June, we’ll know the answer from both the state and the county.”
Revenue from tuition and fees covers 41 percent of next year’s projected income. College officials have said the proposed 3 percent tuition increase means students will pay $3.87 more per credit hour, or $132.87 per credit for students who live in Harford County. Tuition would increase to $223.39 for out-of-county and $313.91 for out-of-state students.
The average student who takes nine credits would spend about $35 more per semester, Morrison said. The consolidated student fee rate will remain the same at 20 percent of in-county tuition.
The college has raised tuition each year since 2010 as officials deal with declining enrollment and challenges with local and state funding.
Officials project a 7 percent decrease in “billable credit hours,” although enrollment in non-credit, continuing education courses is expected to rise by 3.8 percent, according to budget documents.
Phillips and her aides have worked to reduce spending next year by about half a million dollars — Morrison highlighted savings in areas such as finding efficiencies in spending for travel to meetings and conferences, as well as a savings of about $100,000 for adjunct faculty in light of the projected enrollment decline.
There are spending increases planned, as well, such as a 2 percent raise for employees, $100,000 for the second phase of a compensation study “so we continue to move upon” the study’s recommendations, plus an anticipated 16 percent increase in employee health insurance costs, Morrison said.
Officials plan to invest about $240,000 to hire new faculty members, staff and administrators, plus set aside $100,000 for an innovation fund controlled by the president’s office.
Phillips could dip into that pot of money to support initiatives proposed by faculty or staff, Morrison explained.
“She’s going to let curiosity drive the initiative of our employees and have a bucket of money that gives her the resource to invest in some of the ideas,” Morrison said.
Morrison also cited, on the revenue side, a projected increase of nearly 12 percent in “other” income, which comes from investment income, grants and fees for HCC facility rentals. That comprises 1.7 percent of total operating revenues.
Katie Callan, senior associate vice president for administration, operations and project management, presented the proposed capital improvement program, which she said has not changed from when she presented it in December.
She recapped the various projects in the $4.24 million spending plan, including about $1.1 million for technology improvements, $2.85 million to support major renovations to buildings such as Fallston Hall and the development of a welcome center in the Chesapeake Center, plus additional funds for “various deferred maintenance” projects around the Bel Air campus such as parking lot resurfacing.