By Alton Mitchell
It has only been a short time since budget constraints at the State House have caused a reduction of services at the department of driver services office in LaFayette and other smaller communities in Alabama. Those same financial downfalls have also resulted in the question of the future of State Parks and National Guard Armories throughout the state. Now once again the State government of Alabama has found another state sponsored venue that must be downsized to make up for the financial shortcomings of the State, and this time it involves accessibility to liquor in state sponsored stores.
The Alabama Alcoholic Beverage and Control Board will have to close or consolidate 15 stores in the state because of State budget cuts. This is because of a $5.5 million shortfall in the budget of the ABC Board. A timeline has been given of three to six months for the closure of the locations on the chopping block.
The fifteen stores set to be closed are from various parts of the state and luckily this time LaFayette and Chambers County were spared in the downsizing. ABC Store #131 located on US Highway 431 in LaFayette is the only ABC store in Chambers County and will remain open. The US 431 ABC store is also the only liquor store in the city of LaFayette. The two other ABC beverage stores in this area will also remain open in Auburn and Phenix City.
However fifteen stores are going to close they include stores in Dothan, Abbeville, York, Marion, Pike Road, Luverne, Spanish Fort, Hayneville, Linden, Orange Beach, Guntersville, Florence, and three locations in Montgomery. Officials with the ABC board are hoping the store closures themselves will be enough to make up for the budget shortfall. The employees of those locations will be attempted to transfer to other locations near their previous store locations.
LaFayette and Chambers County were spared this go around, but were not so lucky with cuts to the states driver services offices. However last week Governor Bentley announced he had come up with a plan that will allow the states drivers licenses office to reopen on a very limited part-time basis, including the LaFayette office. The State of Alabama continue to look for ways to cut spending due to the budget shortfall and more closures of various state related services may occur further down the line.