Sparks Cuts Department Spending, Not Services

Randall Weiseman Alabama

Commissioner Ron Sparks stated today that the Department of Agriculture & Industries has drastically cut spending over the last several months in anticipation of Governor Bob Riley’s announcement of proration and resulting cutbacks for the State of Alabama. Sparks said that over the last year the Department has cut costs by limiting new hires, utilizing a 4-day work week for field employees, and reducing travel, but recently the staff has cut back even more.

“We respect the position that Governor Riley is in and understand what has to be done to keep our state running,” said Sparks. “My staff had already taken major steps to be more efficient but when talk of proration circulated, we knew we needed to start being even more frugal. We want to be sure we can operate this agency at full capacity in order to serve the public and protect consumers, whether it is food safety, gasoline testing or animal health. Falling gas prices have saved a lot of money, but we will continue to look for ways we can govern in an economically responsible way.”

Some of the changes at the Department of Agriculture & Industries include: cutting all unnecessary travel expenses, reducing overall staffing through retirement and attrition, reducing travel using state owned vehicles, reducing number of new state owned vehicles, increasing fees at diagnostic laboratories, utilizing teleconferencing for meetings to reduce travel, maintaining existing grant dollars and continually looking for new grant dollars, exploring new methods for cost savings in the work place, reviewing and implementing changes in staffing to maximize efficiency and cost ability, and several sections have gone to a four day work week.