Wicomico To Advance $320K For Library Improvements

SALISBURY – The Wicomico Public Libraries will receive $320,000 from the county in the form of a cash advance to fund capital improvements at its downtown branch until the state reimburses the library system for the projects.

In a legislative session of the Wicomico County Council Tuesday, Andrea Berstler, executive director of Wicomico Public Libraries, requested a $320,000 loan to improve and repair parts of the system’s downtown library.

Berstler said Wicomico Public Libraries received a $320,000 grant from the County Library Capital Grant Program to replace carpet and HVAC units, repair subflooring, and improve its public restrooms.

“The Capital Grants Program for libraries provides reimbursement funding for projects to build and repair library buildings,” she said. “Once the money is expended and a paid invoice is available, that can be submitted immediately for reimbursement. We don’t have to wait until the end of the year, or even the end of the month.”

Councilman Marc Kilmer asked if the county would have to provide matching funds for a similar grant in the next fiscal year.

“Is this going to be an issue coming up?” he said.

Berstler explained that while the grant is for FY2017 the library system received an extension through next year. She added that a second grant has been awarded in FY2018 to fund additional repairs to the HVAC system and explained that funds for the 80-20 matching grant must be met.

“In fiscal year 2018, we have a second grant coming our way to do repairs for the HVAC systems at the downtown library,” she said. “I do not believe funding for that is currently in the approved CIP (capital improvement plan), so there will be an additional contingency that will have to come to cover that for fiscal year 2018.”

Berstler explained that once the state reimburses the county for capital improvements, the library will then reimburse Wicomico County.

“The state is usually very prompt with this and in most cases payment is received back in about four to five weeks,” she said.

The council voted 6-0, with Councilman Larry Dodd absent, to approve the cash advance for the FY2017 grant.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.