State consumer department relocates to save money

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Monday was a state holiday, but the Department of Consumer Affairs was on the job. They're moving into a smaller state-owned building to save money. It's the most recent way the agency has tightened its belt, a process the director says will have an effect on consumers.

The building at 2771 Devine Street already houses the State Election Commission and Department of Probation, Pardon and Parole, and will now house another state agency.

"It's a little harder than sort of loading up your pickup truck," laughed Elliott Elam.

The Department of Consumer Affairs spent the holiday weekend packing up and moving in. Their new floor will be smaller than the building they left behind. "You do what you have to do," said Elam.
Like many of the consumers they serve, the agency has gotten used to living with less. A staff of more than 80 has been reduced to 34. They've cut back their fleet and taken a 10-day furlough, all during a recession that has yielded an increased number of consumer complaints.

"The public has to understand we're very short-staffed, so it takes a little bit more time to resolve these issues," commented Director Brandy Pinkston.

Pinkston says that's why they chose the holiday weekend to move. She says their new office will save them about $100,000 a year. "Everyone is trying to fulfill their core mission, whatever that is," she said. "It's what they're trying to do, and they're trying to do that with the least impact on the citizens of the state."
That means working with less in a smaller space. "The space is a lot smaller, the offices are a lot smaller," said Elam."But hey, we're glad we got the jobs, and we want to keep working."