Area braces for possible sequestration

IfCongressdoesn’treachacompromise,thedomesticandmilitaryspendingcutstakeeffectFriday,March1.
SequestrationwaslookingmoreandmorelikelyWednesdayasthedeadlineneared,puttingpotentialimpactsclosertoreality.
Whilethejobsofmilitarypersonnelareprotected,thecutswouldhitthecivilianworkforce.
Morethan20,000civilianDepartmentofDefenseemployeesatNorthCarolinamilitarybases,includingCampLejeune,NewRiverandCherryPoint,facepotentialfurloughsthatwouldequatetomorethan$121millionincumulativepaycuts.
AlBurgessofJacksonville,presidentofAmericanFederationofGovernmentEmployeesLocal2065,saidthataccordingtoU.S.DepartmentofLaboremploymentstatistics,OnslowCountyhasapproximately7,000federalworkersandretirees.
Ifsequestrationoccurs,hesaidpermanentworkerswillloseabout20percentoftheirpay,thecontractsoftermemployeeswillnotberenewedandtemporaryemployeeswillbereleased.
Thefurloughs,hesaid,wouldequatetoonedayeachweek,meaningtwolostdayseachpayperiodfromAprilthroughSeptember,theendofthefederalfiscalyear.
Thefurloughs,hesaid,willmeanlostproductivityandlessmoneyinmanypaychecks,whichwouldmeanlessspendinginthelocalbusinesses.
WithanoverallDepartmentofDefenseshortfallof$45billion,Burgessdoesn’tseewherethe$5billioninsavingsisbeneficial.
“Theywouldinitiallysave$5billion,butinthelongtermit’sgoingtocost.You’relosingproductivityandefficiencyingovernment,”Burgesssaid.
Sen.KayHagan,D-NC,heldaconferencecallTuesdaynotingimpactstoNorthCarolinaandreiteratedconcernssheexpressedinanopinionpiecethatappearedSundayinTheDailyNews.
Shesaidtheacross-the-boardcutswouldhurtfamilies,smallbusinessandmilitaryreadiness.
“Whilereducingournationaldebtisoneofmytoppriorities,indiscriminate,unprioritizedcutsonthebacksofourservicemembersarenotthewaytogetourfiscalhouseinorder,”shesaid.
HagansaidtheNavyisproposingcanceling$81millioninmaintenanceworkatCherryPoint.
Ifsequestrationhappens,attheFleetReadinessCenteratCherryPointtherecouldbe118fewerunits(aircraftoraircraftcomponents)inducted,withareductionof478,000associatedworkhours,accordingtoanewsrelease.
It’snotclearwhatthespecificimpactscouldbeonfederalandmilitarycontracts,butinacommunityhometoaninstallationassignificantasCampLejeune,it’sfairtosaysequestrationwouldhaveaneffect,saidScottDorney,executivedirectoroftheN.C.MilitaryBusinessCenter.
Infederalfiscalyear2012,therewas$835millionindefensecontractsexecutedinOnslowCounty.Thereweredefensecontractsworth$190millionexecutedinCravenCountyand$7.6millioninCarteretCounty,hesaid.
Andthosenumbersdon’tnecessarilyincludethesubcontractors,whichcanbethelocalbusinessesthatmaybeprovidingsuppliesorservicestotheprimecontractor.
Becauseoftheuncertaintiesthathavecomewithsequestrationandthemilitarydownsizing,DorneysaiditisimportantthatlocalbusinessesattendupcomingoutreacheventsinOnslowandCarteretcounties.
OneonMarch19atCoastalCarolinaCommunityCollegewillhaveCampLejeunecontractingofficialsonhandtotalkaboutthestatusoffederalcontractscurrentandfuture.AneventonMarch20atCarteretCommunityCollegeinMoreheadCitywillhavecontractingofficialsfromCherryPoint.
Evenwiththespendingcuts,astrongmilitarypresencewillremaininthearea,andtheMilitaryBusinessCenterwantstohelpNorthCarolinabusinessestocontinuetotakeadvantageoftheopportunities.
“Weneverwanttominimizetheimpacts,butwedowanttomakesurewedon’tlosesightoftheopportunitiesthatarethere,”hesaid.
Thepotentialcutscouldalsogobeyondthemilitary.
TheWhiteHousereleasedastate-by-statebreakdownofpossibleimpacts,includingteachersandschools,fundingforcleanairandwater,publichealth,jobsearchassistanceandprogramssuchasHeadStart.
OneoftheimpactsonOnslowMemorialHospitalwouldbeareductioninitsMedicarepaymentsby2percent.
A2-percentcutwouldequalabout$400,000annuallyandaddtothelossesthehospitalalreadyincurstreatingMedicaidanduninsuredpatients,saidAmySousa,vicepresidentforpublicrelationsandmarketing.
ShesaidthatforthefiscalyearendingSept.30,2012,charitycareamountedtoalittleover$2million.
OnslowCountySchoolsdidn’thaveenoughinformationtoknowspecificimpactsbutitdoesreceivefederaldollarsthatcouldseecuts.
SuzieUlbrich,publicinformationassistant,saidthatingeneralabout10percentofthedistrict’sfundingisfromfederaldollars,whichgoestowardexceptionalchildren,pre-kindergartenandTitle1programs.


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