MORROW — Morrow officials were shocked Tuesday, when they heard Gov. Nathan Deal will issue his annual Georgia Archives Month proclamation today — less than a week after state officials said the Morrow-based facility will be closed to meet budget cuts mandated by Deal.
The archives will close to the public on Nov. 1, according to Secretary of State Brian Kemp, whose offices oversee the facility. People who want to inspect historical documents after that will have to make appointments with a reduced staff.
Deal’s planning and budget office recommended cutting his budget by 3 percent, or $732,626, Kemp said.
So, when Morrow officials — already upset by the decision to close the archives — found out Deal will proclaim October to be Georgia Archives Month, their jaws dropped.
“Can you believe that [expletive]?” said Morrow Business and Tourism Association President Mike Twomey.
The closing of public access to the Georgia Archives likely will have a ripple effect. Clayton State University created a master’s degree program in archival studies because of its Morrow campus’ proximity to the Georgia Archives and the National Archives at Atlanta. Clayton County economic development officials want to attract genealogy-related businesses to the dormant Gateway Village development, located across Ga. 54 from the archives.
“I don’t know, exactly, Gov. Deal’s full interpretation of why this facility must be shut down, other than its budget cuts, but I really wish he would revisit this before it gets any further,” said Morrow Mayor Joseph “J.B.” Burke.
Less than five years ago, the archives was open five days a week. Budget cuts led to it’s being open only on Fridays and Saturdays.
“As it has been for the past two years, these cuts do not eliminate excess in the agency, but require the agency to further reduce services to the citizens of Georgia,” Kemp said in a Sept. 13 agreement. “As an agency that returns over three times what is appropriated back to the general fund, budget cuts present very challenging decisions.”