State auditor Jim Zeigler trying to block closure of surplus property site

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As Gov. Robert Bentley moves to close a state-run surplus materials site in northern Alabama amid budget cuts and austerity in Montgomery, State Auditor Jim Zeigler is again playing the role of perennial thorn in the governor’s side.

Zeigler announced Tuesday morning he will work to block the closure of the site in Eva, Alabama, which he says would “cost the state money instead of saving” state funds.

Zeigler, whose idiosyncratic statewide-elected office is akin to that of an ombudsman or public accountant, says the closure is unnecessary.

He claims it’s being done out of spite after the Legislature passed only part of Bentley’s tax increase proposals amid looming budget deficits earlier this year.

“The state has almost two billion dollars in property paid for by taxpayers. That is a huge area of state government for the Bentley administration to be using as a political football,” said Zeigler.

Bentley’s office recently announced it will shutter the facility, which is designed to process and dispose of surplus state property, and consolidate it with a similar state enterprise based in Montgomery.

The state auditor did not elaborate on specifics of what a move to block the Eva closure might look like, other than to declare his opposition and say he will work to stop it.

“I am looking at legal and political options to block the Eva closing,” said Zeigler on Tuesday.

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