DATE: February 04, 2010
State Aid 2010
At its February 4, 2010 Board Meeting, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) denied Hull Public Library's petition for a waiver of FY2010 Municipal Appropriation Requirement (MAR) of the State Aid to Public Libraries program. The MAR requires consistent funding from the municipality to support public library services. On average municipalities spend 1.24% of their total budget on their public library. Hull Library suffered a 58% disproportionate budget cut as compared to other municipal departments which were cut by 6%. The actual cut to Hull Public Library was close to 64%.
MBLC Chair George T. Comeau commented on the difficult decision made by the Board, "It is regrettable that the Board of Library Commissioners was unable to certify the Town of Hull. We recognize the stress that local communities are facing and we will work closely with trustees and community leaders to find ways to bring Hull back into certification and join the 338 cities and towns that have met the certification requirements in the face of dire financial conditions."
Hull was among 97 communities that applied for a MAR waiver. While this number is higher than in recent years, the number of libraries receiving drastic disproportionate budget cuts has declined. In FY2010, only five libraries received disproportionate budget reductions greater than 10% as compared to FY2009 when nearly one quarter of the libraries that applied for a MAR waiver had disproportionate budget cuts greater than 10%. "In these difficult economic times, libraries, like every municipal department are subject to budget reductions," said Head of State Aid Dianne Carty. "As long as the budget cuts are in line with other municipal department cuts, libraries can maintain State Aid certification. It's when a library's budget is drastically cut beyond the reductions received by other municipal departments, that certification is in jeopardy." For a complete list of MAR waivers for FY2010 please see: http://mblc.state.ma.us/grants/state_aid/awards/waiver_list.php
Hull was the only community to be denied a MAR waiver. Historically the largest disproportionate budget cut to receive a waiver by the Board was 29% (Freetown, FY2009). In FY2009, two communities were denied MAR waivers: Hubbardston which had a 69% disproportionate budget cut and Norton which was cut disproportionately by 33%. For a complete history of MAR waiver awards please see: http://mblc.state.ma.us/grants/state_aid/awards/index.php
In other State Aid activity, the Board voted to grant Wareham Free Library provisional State Aid certification until March 31, 2010. Due to falling below even the accommodated number of hours open, Wareham was not eligible to apply for FY2010 State Aid to Public Libraries program and would have lost certification as of January 1, 2010. However, Senator Marc Pacheco filed a bill, that if passed, will essentially grant the library certification. The provisional certification will allow Wareham to stay certified while the Legislature considers the Senator's bill.
This marks the second effort by the Board to accommodate Wareham and avoid the library going in and out of certification pending the outcome of Senator Pacheco's bill. In December the Board voted to extend Wareham's certification through February 3, 2010.
Participation in the State Aid to Public Libraries Program is voluntary. It is administered in accordance with statutory and regulatory minimum standards of free public library service. The program encourages municipalities to support and improve public library service, compensates for disparities among municipal funding capacities, and offsets the cost of circulating public library materials to Massachusetts nonresidents from certified municipalities. For more information please see http://mblc.state.ma.us/grants/state_aid/index.php
The Board of Library Commissioners (mass.gov/mblc) is the agency of state government with the statutory authority and responsibility to organize, develop, coordinate and improve library services throughout the Commonwealth. The Board advises municipalities and library trustees on the operation and maintenance of public libraries, including construction and renovation. It administers state and federal grant programs for libraries and promotes cooperation among all types of libraries through regional library systems and automated resource sharing. It also works to ensure that all residents of the Commonwealth, regardless of their geographic location, social or economic status, age, level of physical or intellectual ability or cultural background, have access to essential new electronic information technologies and significant electronic databases.