Harford Community College President Talks College Finances, Sports Complex

Initial fees charged to the adult baseball leagues were established on the basis of operational costs for summer use. Those fees remained fairly constant over the next twenty-some years despite the increasing costs required for maintenance, upkeep and the need for additional long-term renovations such as the necessary upgrade of the main baseball field. Instead of raising fees on a gradual basis, the College began to cover the increased costs through dollars from its operating budget. The recent decision to increase user fees was based on the principle of returning the fields to the self-supporting status envisioned in 1989.

The mistake made by the College was to try to close the gap all at once. Admitting the mistake, we sat down in a series of discussions with the leaders of the adult baseball leagues. I have always held that when an issue is identified, it is relatively easy to find a solution satisfactory to all parties. That is exactly what happened in this instance. The leagues recognized the need to increase fees; the College realized that any increase in fees had to occur gradually. Because we do value the leagues and want them to continue summer games on the fields, we offered lower rates than for other potential users. We now have in place an agreement for the next two years with which all parties can live, the essence of a reasonable compromise. In the coming weeks, the College and the leagues will once again sit down to create a reasonable, responsible, mutually agreeable user fee structure and schedule for the future. League leaders have stated to me that they "look forward to the continuation of the constructive discussions that led to the current agreement and are excited about the opportunity to work on a long-term arrangement between the College and the leagues that can allow these valued community programs to continue."

The need for an increase in tuition and fees is also a straightforward story. As a publicly supported institution, the College relies on three major sources of revenue: state funding, county support and tuition and fees. In the five-year period 2008-2013, the College experienced a 25 percent increase in the number of students and rising costs for virtually everything, ranging from utilities to library holdings. Because of the economic downturn, public funding was unable to keep pace at that level.

The inability of public entities to fully fund community colleges due to a decrease in revenues is understandable, but it put the College in the position of turning to an increase in tuition and fees to maintain quality education. No one likes to increase tuition, and for years Harford Community College has prided itself on having the lowest tuition of any college in the state. While affordability is a major aspect of our mission, it must be balanced by ensuring that what the students get for their tuition is a quality education which enables them to transfer readily to a four-year university or enter the job market with the requisite skills. Our students deserve no less.

Source : http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2014-05-09/news/ph-ag-golladay-statement-0509-20140508_1_harford-community-college-athletic-fields-leagues

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