Medical marijuana cash windfall has Wareham officials optimistic about library's future

By Matthew Bernat | Mar 26, 2018
Photo by: Matthew Bernat Wareham Free Library Director Michael Carlozzi plans to apply for state certification this July. The library has been open limited hours and operating on a reduced budget since 2014.

After four years operating on a shoestring budget and without state certification, a windfall has Wareham Free Library and town officials optimistic that patrons will soon have a fully staffed, certified library.

Wareham Free Library Director Michael Carlozzi said the news comes right on schedule. One year ago, he appeared before Selectmen with a plan to regain state certification by this summer, and it appears that’s going to happen.

Certified libraries must be open at least 40 hours a week, spend 12 percent of the total budget on materials and have a director with a master’s degree. The last requirement was met in 2016 when Carlozzi – who once worked as a library page in Wareham – was hired.

On March 22, the town provided the final piece of the puzzle in the form of a planned $51,000 contribution to library’s budget for the coming fiscal year. The remaining funds will be given to Wareham Public Schools. With a mix of town money and privately raised funds, the library’s operating budget will be approximately $370,000.

Selectman Alan Slavin said the funds will come from the developers of a medical marijuana facility slated to open this summer in town. As part of the facility’s agreement with Wareham, at least $100,000 will be paid to the town the first year that it opens. In 2019, developers will pay Wareham $125,000 and then $150,000 in 2020.

With the funds, the library will be able to keep services at a level that will allow it to keep its certification moving forward should it regain certification this summer.

“It should be enough to have a sustainable, certified library – a pretty good one, too” said Carlozzi.

Over the past year, library officials met the other two requirements, using a mix of municipal funds and money raised by two steadfast groups, the Friends of the Wareham Free Library and the Wareham Free Library Foundation.

Carlozzi credited those groups keeping the library going when its future was in doubt after voters defeated a proposition 2 1/2 override in 2014.

“Without them the library likely would have closed,” said Carlozzi.

The measure would have raised funds for several town agencies by raising property taxes. When it failed, the library’s budget was slashed by more than half, going from $295,637 in 2014 to $125,000 in 2015. The town's appropriation to the library in 2013 was $423,515.

Without certification, the library lost up to $15,000 in funds from the state, the ability to apply for grants from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners and access to materials from libraries across the state.

Carlozzi said with certification, Wareham Free Library patrons will again be able to borrow books and materials from nearly every library in Massachusetts.

Additionally, Carlozzi said he’s looking to hire a reference librarian and move children’s librarian Marcia Hickey back into the children’s room full time. Those changes will give staff more time to focus on assisting patrons, he said.

Carlozzi said he can apply to the state for recertification in July. It’s not a guarantee, but having followed state regulations for the past year, along with a strong commitment from the town, he’s optimistic about the library’s chances after four years.

Comments (14)
Posted by: | Mar 27, 2018 05:56

It's a win win - POT PAYS

Posted by: Sharkie | Mar 27, 2018 07:06

But we weren’t going to gain anything financially from this, right? No, it’s a terrible thing for our town. Hopefully they will put some money towards our schools next. I think our schools should have been first, but I’m excited that our library is going to be taken care of as well.

Posted by: cranky pants | Mar 27, 2018 07:31

Bam !

There ya have it naysayers... Years of a dreaded budget and not knowing when the last page will turn and now look, the dispensary hasn't even opened yet and it's showing hope. Boy these pot shops are going to ruin our town. With any luck some money will be dumped into East Wareham and help the eyesore establishments along 28.

Can't wait to see the comments for this.

Posted by: bob | Mar 27, 2018 07:42

After 3 years and the town is on it own,while the pot business just keeps smoking along....

Posted by: cranky pants | Mar 27, 2018 07:49

Doubtful Bob, they will be collecting taxes off the sales as well. So it' the town's call what would happen.

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Mar 27, 2018 09:16

I am not against medical marijuana.  This is great news about the library.  But don't ya see a hint of irony?  Who woulda thunk dope would save the library?

Posted by: Spherebreaker | Mar 27, 2018 11:04

Why are these funds going to the library when the Town has so many other pressing needs.

Posted by: cranky pants | Mar 27, 2018 11:36

A better question would be, " what has the methadone clinic offered or given back to the town besides the junkies and zombies ? "

Posted by: Uptohere | Mar 27, 2018 11:52

While its great for the library, who made the decision that' where it was to be spent?

Posted by: cranky pants | Mar 27, 2018 12:25

Probably someone with ties inside the library. Nothing gets slid through around here unless someone's pockets are getting lined... But you know this already.

Posted by: WWreader | Mar 27, 2018 19:37

Cranky, please provide proof that "someone's pockets are getting lined." This isn't the first time you've made such comments, but never provide proof. The library needs the funding in order to get recertification. What other department is partially funded by two nonprofit groups?  The library budget was cut more than any other department. This is truly great news!

Posted by: cranky pants | Mar 27, 2018 20:32

Don't get it confused, I'm not against the library getting the funds. I would have rather seen the money go to schools, but maybe that's not able to happen due to technicalities. If you think that there isn't deals made with handshakes under the table then life is good :)

Posted by: desertsky | Mar 28, 2018 06:59

I have no idea who/how the decision was made to allocate the funds but maybe there was some sort of reasoning that since the library budget and Council on Aging budgets were slashed big time previously, it's time to spread a little of the revenue around. The schools aren't the only priorities here...tahey have a huge budge and it's never enough...the group of people who support this town through taxes are more than families with kids using those resources. When you pay into school systems for years and you don't even have kids, it's nice to see some other services offered. No offense, but it's not always about "the kids".

The school budget is a bottomless pit and those funds would just disappear into the abyss. Maybe "the kids" could try using the library sometime....

Posted by: WWreader | Mar 28, 2018 07:43

Cranky, big difference between shaking hands and bribery. Stop making unsubstantiated claims.

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