Apr 16, 2013 10:02 PM by Nathan O'Neal

Davis-Monthan braces for sequestration impacts, possible furloughs

TUCSON - Davis-Monthan Airforce Base is bracing for the impact of the fed's automatic budget cuts, known as sequestration, as many questions about the effects of the cuts linger.

The sequester will affect the base in four key areas. They have already decreased their contracts with local businesses, which included construction and custodial services.

Travel to and from the base for training conferences across the county has also been cut for now.

Also, one fighter squadron will stand down to cut down on flying hours, which cost $6,600 per hour to fly. This means there will be no flyovers for athletic games or parades.

The possibility of forced furloughs for civilian workers is expected to be decided in May.

The biggest concern for folks at Davis-Monthan is how much of an effect it's going to have on their wallets. For airmen and women on base there is no immediate threat but for civilian workers it could mean losing up to two full weeks of pay.

Colonel Kevin Blanchard, the Commander for the 355th Fighter Wing at Davis-Monthan, said the threats of the furloughs are very real.

"Right now it hasn't taken place and it hasn't been put in effect yet but [the Department of Defense] has been given the warning that we may furlough our civilians for up to 14 days for the remainder of the summer and fall starting in June," Blanchard told News 4 Tucson.

It would affect more than 13,000 civilian workers - and given that the furlough days are implemented for the full 14 days - that adds up to more than $4.3 million of payroll that won't go out.

That's a huge chunk of cash that local shops worry they might miss out on.

"That's a huge part of our business," said Dennis Brack, a manager at Miller's Surplus Store, which is located close to the air force base.

Brack said the store relies heavily on the traffic of patrons who work on base. Although he hasn't seen any direct impact on the shop just yet, he worries for the potential impact of a workforce with less buying power.

"I assume that over time they would start feeling it which would mean we would start feeling it... which I hope doesn't happen any time soon," Brack said.

As the base copes with the hassle of operating on a tighter budget, their mission is simple: to keep moving forward.

"We're still doing all of those day to day things that we would normally do and we're really trying to keep [everyone on base] focused on that day to day mission and letting our leadership really worry about how to deal with the resource constraints that we're facing right now," Blanchard said.


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