THE STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT / THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK / ALBANY, NY 12234

 

TO:

The Honorable the Members of the Board of Regents

 

FROM:

Carole F. Huxley

SUBJECT:

Amendment to Section 90.12 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education Relating to State aid for Public Library Construction

 

DATE:

 

October 11, 2006

 

STRATEGIC GOAL:

Goals 2-5

 

AUTHORIZATION(S):

 

 

SUMMARY

 

Issue for Decision

 

          Should the Regents adopt as a permanent rule the proposed amendment to section 90.12 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education, relating to requirements for State aid for public library construction?

 

Reason(s) for Consideration

 

          The proposed amendment is necessary to conform the Commissioner's Regulations to recent changes to Education Law section 273-a, so that funds for public library construction and renovation projects, appropriated pursuant to Chapter 53 of the Laws of 2006, are timely awarded pursuant to statutory requirements to eligible public libraries and public library systems.

 

Proposed Handling

 

          The proposed amendment is presented for discussion and adoption by the Full Board at the October 2006 Regents meeting.

 

Procedural History

 

The Board of Regents adopted the proposed amendment as an emergency measure at the September Regents meeting, effective September 15, 2006.    

 

Chapter 53 of the Laws of 2006, which provides an appropriation for $14 million in library construction funds, originated with the 10 recommendations of the Regents Commission on Library Services.  It is a component of the proposed New Century Libraries legislation, which was based on the recommendations made by the Commission after two years of studying the State's libraries, including 14 public meetings held throughout the State to solicit input from the public and the library community.

 

          In addition, in 2003, staff of the New York State Library's Division of Library Development had a conference call with representatives of the Public Library System Directors Organization (PULSIDO) and also attended the annual PULSIDO meeting to discuss the construction program, which resulted in suggestions for changing the program. 

 

          In addition to revising the regulation to conform to Education Law section 273-a, additional changes were made upon recommendation of the State's public library systems to facilitate the State aid application procedures.     

 

Background Information

 

The proposed amendment is needed to ensure that the Commissioner's Regulations are in compliance with recent changes to Education Law section 273-a.  Chapter 572 of the Laws of 2003 amended section 273-a to change the funding year from one year to three years and the payment year from 'January 1 through December 31' to 'July 1 through June 30.'   Section 4 of Part O of Chapter 57 of the Laws of 2005 amended section 273-a to change the payment schedule from a 50/40/10 percent basis to a 90/10 percent basis.  The proposed amendment will also provide libraries with greater flexibility in applying for grant funds.  Projects that are not completed but are more than 60 percent complete will now be eligible for funding.   Projects that will not be ready to start for up to 180 days will now be eligible for funding, as opposed to 90 days previously.

 

The recommended action is proposed to enable the timely implementation of public library construction projects in fiscal year 2006-07. 

 

A Notice of Proposed Rule Making was published in the State Register on August 23, 2006.  An Assessment of Public Comment is attached.  Supporting materials for the proposed amendment are available upon request from the Secretary to the Board of Regents. 

 

Recommendation

 

It is recommended that the Board of Regents take the following action:

 

VOTED:  That subdivision (b), paragraphs (2) and (4) of subdivision (c), paragraph (4) of subdivision (d), and subdivisions (f) and (g) of section 90.12 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education be amended as submitted, effective November 16, 2006.

 

Timetable for Implementation

 

The proposed amendment was adopted as an emergency rule at the September Regents meeting, with an effective date of September 15, 2006.  Upon approval by the Regents at their October meeting, the proposed amendment will become effective as a permanent rule on November 16, 2006.

 

 

 

PROPOSED AMENDMENT OF SECTION 90.12 OF THE REGULATIONS OF THE COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION PURSUANT TO SECTIONS 207, 215 AND 273-a OF THE EDUCATION LAW AND CHAPTER 53 OF THE LAWS OF 2006, RELATING TO STATE AID FOR PUBLIC LIBRARY CONSTRUCTION

ASSESSMENT OF PUBLIC COMMENT

          Since publication of a Notice of Proposed Rule Making in the State Register on August 23, 2006, the State Education Department received the following comments.

COMMENTS:

          Comments were received from several entities in Erie County.  These comments did not address the provisions of the proposed amendment, but instead offered broader policy and practical concerns regarding Erie County's fiscal and budgetary situation and the implementation of the library construction grant program as detailed in guidance posted on the Department's website (www.nysl.nysed.gov/libdev/construc/faq14m.htm), including concerns relating to the deadline/timeframe for submission of proposals; submission of an architect's estimate combined with a formal adopted budgetary commitment for the project, or submission of a feasibility study, in lieu of a contractor's bid or quote; providing evidence of the availability of funds to pay for the project minus the amount awarded through the construction grant program; prior approval by the State Historic Preservation Office for projects concerning buildings that are 50 years old or older; and allowing applications for phases of the project rather than the full project.

DEPARTMENT RESPONSE:

          The comments are beyond the scope of the proposed amendment, which is intended to conform the Commissioner's Regulations to recent changes to Education Law section 273-a, as made by Chapter 572 of the Laws of 2003 and Chapter 57 of the Laws of 2005, so that funds appropriated pursuant to Chapter 53 of the Laws of 2006 are awarded pursuant to statutory requirements.  However, the Department will address the expressed concerns via a conference call followed by individual responses. 

AMENDMENT OF SECTION 90.12 OF THE REGULATIONS OF THE COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION

          Pursuant to sections 207, 215 and 273-a of the Education Law and Chapter 53 of the Laws of 2006

          1.  Subdivision (b) of section 90.12 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education is amended, effective November 16, 2006, as follows:

(b)  Application procedures.  (1)  Each public library system shall submit to the commissioner, no later than a prescribed date, as part of a plan of service, a plan by which it will accept, review, and make recommendations on applications as required by Education Law, section 273-a(2).  [Such plans shall include a schedule of such actions, local funds matching requirements, planning and technical requirements, and procedures to be followed.]

     (2)  When the applicant is a library, the governing board of the system of which it is a member shall indicate to the commissioner its approval of such application by stating the extent to which the project for which State aid is requested will assist the applicant to provide more effective service within the systemís standards of organization and service.  [If the governing board of the system does not approve a member libraryís application, such application shall be submitted to the commissioner with an explanation of such nonapproval.]

          (3)  .   .   .

          (4) The library system board shall rank the applications from its system area in order of its recommendations, giving particular attention to the service needs of any communities which are isolated or economically disadvantaged, or located beyond the reasonable service capabilities of other libraries which are members of such library system.

          2.  Paragraphs (2) and (4) of subdivision (c) of section 90.12 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education are amended, effective November 16, 2006, as follows:

          (2)  the nonstate share of the cost of the project is or will be available, that the project has been started or will begin within [90] 180 days after approval by the commissioner, and that the project will be completed promptly and in accordance with the application;

          (4)  [not more than 60 percent of the approved costs have been expended as of the date of the application] the project has not been completed prior to the date of the application;

          3.  Paragraph (4) of subdivision (d) of section 90.12 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education is amended, effective November 16, 2006, as follows:

          (4) the provision of library services in communities which are geographically isolated or economically disadvantaged; and

          4.  Subdivision (f) of section 90.12 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education is amended, effective November 16, 2006, as follows:

          (f)  Schedule of payment of State aid for library construction.  (1)  [Fifty-] Ninety-percent payment of awarded State aid for approved costs of the project will be made after notification of applicant by the commissioner of approval for funding.

          (2) [An additional 40-percent payment will be made after certification by the applicant that the project has been 50-percent completed in accordance with the approved application.

          (3)] The 10-percent final payment will be made after submission of satisfactory evidence that the project has been completed according to the approved application and has been accepted by the applicant.

          5.  Subdivision (g) of section 90.12 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education is amended, effective November 16, 2006, as follows:

          (g)  Reports.  The following reports shall be made to the commissioner on the forms and by the dates prescribed by the commissioner:

          (1)  .   .   .

          (2) [Each library system board shall report on the status of any project for which an approved application was submitted to the commissioner, but for which no State aid was provided.

          (3) Each library system board shall report on the status of each project submitted to the commissioner for which the system did not recommend approval.

(4)] Each library system board shall report on the anticipated State aid necessary for eligible projects to be completed in its service area.

(3) Upon request by the commissioner, each library system board shall submit an annual report detailing the status of each project for which an application was submitted by a member library and not recommended for approval, or was approved but for which no state aid was provided.