MONTGOMERY, AL (09/30/2015)(readMedia)-- Release #2015093001
September 30, 2015
State Budget Cuts Result in Armory Closures for the Alabama National Guard
Years of sustained funding shortfalls for the Alabama National Guard operations and maintenance budget have reached a critical juncture. The State of Alabama and the Federal government operate the National Guard on a Master Cooperative Agreement (MCA) which obligates a cost sharing framework for National Guard Armories throughout the state. The typical cost sharing relationship in armories requires a 50/50 share between State and Federal funds. The Alabama National Guard "Twenty Five Year Master Plan" defines the objective number, size, and location of armories throughout the state to meet current and future requirements for the Guard. This master plan in coordination with National Guard Bureau is dependent upon a state budget that is consistent and funded to an adequate level for investment to construct new facilities and sustain, restore and modernize existing facilities to Army standards.
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. In the past six years the Alabama Army National Guard has received over $126 million Federal dollars for the MCA Federal share obligation of which only $16 million was provided by the State budget to match these federal funds. The lack of state matching funds resulted in investment of Federal match funds to be allocated to lower priority and fully federal funded facilities rather than armories. This funding shortfall in deferred investment also forces the deliberate closure and consolidation of armories until a consistent and adequate long term funding solution can be achieved, allowing the state to meet its minimum obligations to the MCA.
The Alabama National Guard facilities Master Plan includes closing and consolidation of 15 armories between fiscal years 2014 to 2017. The $200,000 reduction to the NG budget for fiscal year 2016 forced a corresponding reduction in the only place the NG can reduce expenses without incurring unacceptable risk in fiscal oversight and property accountability; facilities operations and maintenance. By reducing six additional armories, we effectively reduce the facility operations and maintenance costs to meet the State budget we are given by the Legislature for 2016.
The National Guard Twenty Five Year Master Plan is to close the first 15 armories of which two have been closed to date in Albertville and Monroeville. The 13 remaining armories are located in the following cities: Sheffield, Scottsboro, Vernon, Jasper, Aliceville, Sylacauga, Camden, Fort Deposit, Jackson, Brantley, Elba, Geneva and Hartford. The six additional armories that will close are: Huntsville, Winfield, Alexander City, Demopolis, Marion, and Eufaula. The criteria used to select these locations was the cost to operate and maintain the armory, condition of the armory and the armories ability to meet mission support (i.e.; recruiting, equipment storage, force structure accommodation) currently and in the future. The plan prioritizes the facilities that can be economically sustained within budget and scheduled those that cannot for closure. Closure of armories in the National Guard is not an instantaneous action and will require up to 24 months to complete. 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.