Due to years of disproportionate financial support between state and federal entities, six additional armories in the state of Alabama are set to close within the next few years.
According to AL.com, the closings are in response to a massive budget cut passed by the state Legislature this month that reduced general expenditures by about $83 million, or 4.5%.
The Alabama National Guard announced that the six armories will be closed due to “years of sustained funding shortfalls.”
Affected armories include Huntsville, Winfield, Alexander City, Demopolis, Marion, and Eufaula. The closing of these six armories comes on the heels of a decision to close and consolidate 15 other armories throughout the state between 2014 and 2017.
“Over the past six years, the Alabama National Guard has identified over $100 million dollars of deferred maintenance, repair, and modernization requirements for facilities constructed from 1950 to 1990 that fail to meet the Army’s mission requirements of quality, quantity and mission support,” the Guard announced in a press release.
The Alabama Army National Guard says they have received more than $126 million in federal funds, while the state of Alabama has provided only $16 million in matching funds.
Alabama armories are the headquarters for current members of the military within the state. Almost half, or 45%, of the 1.6 million veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are now seeking compensation for injuries they say are service-related, and the armories play a huge role in returning them to a life of normalcy.
“Drilling guardsmen and full time service members are our number one priority. Units affected by these closures will be relocated to other Guard facilities with accommodations made to continue their current mission with as little turbulence as possible,” the Guard’s statement continued.
AL.com is reporting that the budget cuts will also affect state parks and driver’s license offices. Gov. Robert Bentley says he is awaiting a list of parks that could potentially close from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
Gov. Bentley also said that 33 driver’s license offices are on the list for possible closure, including some that were previously considered for closing because they don’t serve enough people to meet the state’s funding requirements.
As for the armories, the Governor fell short of offering extensive reasoning for the closures.
“Some (armories) we were going to close anyway, but others were closed primarily because of lack of funding,” Bentley said.
Closing an armory can take up to two years, so members of the military affected by the closures will be given a grace period to find and obtain external resources.