Friday, December 11, 2009
The Kansas Adjutant General’s Department today released the names of the communities where 18 of its 56 National Guard armories will close in early 2010 due to state budget cuts.
The following armory locations will be closed:
Atchison, Burlington, Chanute, Cherryvale, Council Grove, Fort Scott, Garden City, Garnett, Goodland, Horton, Kingman, Larned, Phillipsburg, Russell, Sabetha, *Salina East, Troy and Winfield. (*Salina East building will remain open for Guard use, but armory operations will be transferred).
Armory personnel, community leaders, legislators and congressional staff affected by the impacted armories, as well as all Adjutant General Department staff, have been notified of the specific locations affected.
Budget cuts and the need for long-term sustainment of operations force closures
The decision to close the facilities and consolidate operations into 38 existing locations resulted from state budget cuts announced in the governor’s budget reduction package on Nov. 23, 2009, and is necessary for long-term sustainment of armory operations.
“This was a difficult decision, but we had little choice as the state budget was reduced and we considered what would be necessary for long term sustainment of armory operations statewide,” said Maj. Gen. Tod Bunting, Kansas adjutant general. “We’ve been operating with much less than the necessary required funding even when the state budget was better, so an analysis of closures had been done. These latest cuts forced us to take action right away. Unfortunately, additional closures and consolidations may be necessary in the future.”
Personnel and financial impact
Personnel working at these 18 facilities (all are Guardsmen) will be transferred to other armory locations. Training, equipment and other items needed to continue operations will also be relocated.
A total of 29 full time Guard staff and 412 traditional/M-day Guard soldiers will be impacted by the consolidation.
For several soldiers, the changes will mean a shorter drive to work. Prior to these closures, more than 52% of Kansas Guardsmen lived within 50 miles of their armory. After these closures, 2% more of Kansas Guardsmen, for a total of 54%, will live within 50 miles of their armory making it a shorter drive to work.
Closing the 18 armories will reduce $156,662 from the current fiscal year’s operating budgets to meet state requirements and addresses additional cuts for next year’s budget for a total of $264,217 for FY 2011.
Significant additional savings beyond the $420,000 will result from consolidating operations and no longer maintaining or inspecting the facilities. In the past, maintenance has been deferred and later made up with millions of dollars in bonds.
“We carefully deliberated the best approach to consolidate our personnel and equipment while maintaining a strong National Guard presence in each region of the state,” Bunting said. “Our closure plan allows us to do this and we will continue to support the communities of Kansas in times of need as we always have.”
In the communities of Horton, Sabetha and Troy, the Head Start Program is operating out of each of the armories. Guard leadership will work with the community regarding the program to ensure it can continue operations at the armories for the remainder of its 2009 - 2010 school year.
Criteria for determining closures
A comprehensive strategic analysis was conducted to consider the closure of armories and consolidation of operations. It included location and proximity to other armories, historical and projected demographic shifts in population, consolidation of operations, condition of current facilities and the potential to expand to accommodate new mission requirements in the future, required facility upgrades and maintenance costs. Another factor included ensuring a National Guard presence in each of the seven homeland security regions to support domestic response operations.
“Many of the facilities to be closed were built in the 1950s and designed for 100 to 150 soldiers; however, today several of these facilities have only 50 people training there,” Bunting said. “This isn’t cost effective, it reduces the cohesiveness of our units and it isn’t sustainable given the budget situation we have been facing for several years and which isn’t likely to improve in the near future.”
Disaster response will not be impacted
Despite the consolidations, the Kansas National Guard is committed to its state mission of disaster support to communities.
“Although the Kansas Guard has never had an armory in every community or even every county, we have always fulfilled our mission to help protect Kansans and their property during emergencies, no matter where they occur in our state, and we remain committed to this,” Bunting said. “We didn’t have armories in Greensburg, Chapman, Osawatomie, Hoisington, Sublette or Parsons as well as many other communities hit by severe weather in recent years, yet we responded and stayed as long as we were needed.”
Eventually all of the closed armories will be returned to the communities for local use. In the meantime, some of the impacted facilities will remain unoccupied for a time while equipment and personnel are transferred and operations are consolidated.
“With fewer armories, strategically located around the state, we will be better postured to sustain the 38 remaining facilities and provide our Guardsmen and the local communities with the type of facility they deserve,” Bunting added.
Prior closures of armory locations have occurred in Kansas for a variety of reasons; however, usually these involved one or two at a time. A total of 14 armories have closed since 1982.
The following is a list of the closed armories, followed by where their units will be transferred to:
Atchison - Holton
Burlington - Ottowa
Chanute - Iola
Cherryvale - Coffeyville
Council Grove - Manhattan
Fort Scott - Pittsburg
Garden City - Dodge City
Garnett - Iola
Goodland - Colby
Horton - Holton
Kingman - Hutchinson
Larned - Hays
Phillipsburg - Concordia
Russell - Norton
Sabetha - Clay Center
Salina East - Abilene
Troy - Hiawatha
Winfield - Augusta