Local agencies say ADECA consolidation of surplus property warehouses will have substantial impact

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GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) -- The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs will consolidate the operations of its surplus property division into a single warehouse in Montgomery, coming as a result of the legislature’s 12 percent cut in ADECA’s allocation in the 2016 State general fund budget. However, that consolidation is going to have an effect on the local agencies who use the warehouse in Morgan County, which will be moved to Montgomery.

ADECA currently operates surplus property warehouses in Montgomery and in Eva, in Morgan County.

"Basically for several years now, we've utilized the Eva warehouse, which is part of the ADECA surplus property," Marshall County EMA Director Anita McBurnett says.

Marshall County EMA uses the warehouse in Eva to fill needs in equipment, and also to support a program for students across the county. "We continue with our Community Emergency Response Team program for the high school HOSA kids, we get a lot of surplus bandages and things that they need for the CERT exercise," McBurnett explains.

EMA officials say had it not been for the warehouse in Eva, the program would not have been able to be kept running for as long as it has.

"There's a lot of different agencies in Marshall County that benefit from Eva, and it's not just Emergency Management," McBurnett explains, "It's volunteer fire departments, full-time fire departments, police departments, city road crews."

ADECA's surplus property division receives surplus equipment, vehicles, furniture and other items from state and federal sources and offers the property to city and county governments, state agencies, and other groups and organizations. By obtaining surplus equipment at large discounts, these organizations are able to reduce their operating expenses.

The EVA warehouse will cease operations January 1, with its four staff positions being transferred to the Montgomery warehouse.

“There are no easy solutions when faced with a substantial budget cut; but I am obligated to operate our department on the funds the legislature has provided,” Director Jim Byard, Jr.  said, “Regrettably, the consolidation of surplus property into a single warehouse location will create a substantial inconvenience to our employees and to some of the north Alabama agencies we serve. Nevertheless, we will continue providing the same quantity, quality and variety of surplus property, just at one location in Montgomery.”

The Eva warehouse will remain open for business until January 1, then all of the surplus property division’s inventory will then be moved to Montgomery.

McBurnett says that will make it harder to operate, as Montgomery is roughly three hours from Guntersville, where the EMA is located. "Plus, we're not near that location so a lot of people are going to be going to Montgomery now, which means because we're further away from Montgomery we won't have the ability to go and check and see what's available, if they have what we need," McBurnett says.

McBurnett adds the cost of fuel and time away from the offices is going to have an impact as well. "This is going to be a huge impact for the north Alabama area," McBurnett says.

Local officials say they hope the decision to consolidate is reevaluated.