ATLANTA -- Throwing good money away, hundreds of thousands of dollars of it - not just once, but twice. That’s what has happening at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
Hundreds of broken desks; scores of crippled chairs; cabinets, computer desks, and file cabinets, all falling apart. It's just a fraction of used airport furniture that had been stored away by the airport. A 60-page inventory of used airport furniture says it all. And now the airport says all that furniture is useless.
For 2 years, the furniture sat in storage piling up charges. The buck stopped right at Atlanta City Hall and in the chambers of the Atlanta City Council. The furniture was useless and on its way to nowhere with a whopping bill to pay. But before the furniture goes to the junk heap, the airport is shelling out more than $352,000 in storage fees.
Payment was rubber stamped by the Atlanta City Council’s Transportation Committee but not before one member raised the red flag. Yolanda Adrean voted against it.
“The furniture had no value so I could not understand why we would warehouse it," she said. "Why we would pay rent for furniture that had no value."
But despite the protest, the transportation committee overwhelmingly approved a first payment of $173,000 to a private storage company. Just this month, they approved another $179,000 for storage which includes $10,000 to throw the furniture away.
In a prepared statement, the airport told 11Alive:
"The furniture was no longer useable and could not be salvaged."
But C.T. Martin, Chairman of the Atlanta City Council Transportation Committee could not figure out why it took two years and $352,000 to find that out.
“I am sorry that it happened and wish we had caught it earlier," he said. "I am sure they would not want this blight on our sheet - kind of ineffective management. It was obviously an oversight and obviously poor management.”
But now that Martin has the facts:
“I would have voted against it and told them to stop right now,” he said.
While the airport says the furniture is useless, Transportation Committee member Keisha Lance Bottoms has another idea, well intended but perhaps too late.
“We offer this furniture in the same way that we did with City Hall East," she said. "We take the opportunity to make donations to non-profits and, if not, we offer it for sale to the public.”
Going forward, a much closer watch on inventory and an on-site inspection before hundreds of thousands of airport dollars are wasted. Airport officials told 11Alive they have recouped a small amount of the $352,000 by renting out the space where the furniture was first stored at the airport-owned old Convention Center to a motion picture company.