Wednesday, February 11, 2004
Romney MARs Massachusetts Libraries

Willard Mitt loves standards.

He’s proposed new standards for mercury emissions (source: BU Daily Free Press, 9/26/2003); for notaries public (source: Boston Business Journal, 12/22/2003); for the death penalty (source: office of (fraud) governor, 9/23/2003); and for marriage (source: Boston Herald, 2/10/2004)

Too bad he can’t meet the standards that are already in place.

Case in point: your public library - particularly if it recently received a waiver of the FY2004 Municipal Appropriate Requirement (MAR).

But, as usual, we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

Let’s do this the Reagan Way. Libraries have standards: standards of operation and of funding. Using the standards that have been enumerated into law, is your library better off than it was fourteen months ago?

Team Reform has been in office since January 2003. It is now February 2004. Fourteen months ago was 2002.

According to Massachusetts General Law, no city or town receives state aid from the Board of Library Commissioners if their appropriation "for free public library services" is below an amount equal to its three-year average appropriation, plus two and one-half per cent. Give or take a 'provided that.' (source: MGL Ch 78, sec 19A)

Libraries failing this requirement which can prove hardship can apply for a waiver. For example, in calendar 2002, thirteen city or town libraries applied for MAR waivers.


Let’s look at that one more time in slo-motion replay. In calendar 2002. Thirteen city or town libraries. Applied for MAR waivers.


And then Team Reform came to town and began their assault on local aid.

In 2003, 68 municipal libraries applied for MAR hardship waivers.

65 qualified:

Abington, Arlington, Athol, Attleboro, Auburn, Barnstable, Bellingham, Berkley, Beverly, Boston, Braintree, Bridgewater, Chelsea, Duxbury, Easthampton, Everett, Fall River, Fitchburg, Foxborough,
Framingham, Franklin, Freetown, Gardner, Greenfield, Hatfield, Haverhill, Holbrook, Holliston, Lenox, Lexington, Longmeadow, Lowell, Lynn, Marlborough, Melrose, Milford, Montague, New Bedford, Newbury, North Andover, Northampton, Northbridge, Quincy, Randolph, Revere, Royalston, Salem, Salisbury, Saugus, Somerville, South Hadley, Southbridge, Springfield, Stoughton, Townsend, Uxbridge, Wakefield, Wales, Walpole, West Springfield, Westport, Weymouth, Winthrop, Worcester and Wrentham. (source: Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners)

And it's not over yet. Chapter 159 of the Acts of 2000 set the maximum number of waivers at ten. However, under Team Reform, “the number of waivers available for FY2005 will not be determined until the budget language is final for FY2005.” (source: MBLC)

With a little luck, maybe each of the state’s 338 libraries will be granted waivers from appropriation standards.

Then the Fraud Governor will be free to implement his Master Solution.


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