Services face cuts in budget

Money for continuing education, custodians and grounds maintenance at Fort Gordon could be the first to go as Army officials brace for cutbacks to basic services at bases all across the country.

 

In order to hold down nonwar spending while building up troop levels in Afghanistan, military officials have cut the portion of the Army budget dedicated to running bases by 20 percent this year.

At Fort Gordon, that means there could be less money for the people who cut the grass, repair leaky pipes and perform other services that don't have a direct connection to the soldier's life, health and safety.

Col. Glenn Kennedy, the post's garrison commander, said in a statement Tuesday that there were no plans to furlough or cut personnel, but that "hiring actions would be closely reviewed and could dictate a degree of hiring freeze."

"Should budget considerations require cutbacks in base operations, priority will go to services that impact the life, health and safety of our customers and beneficiaries," Col. Kennedy said. "Even with possible reduction in services, the Army will maintain its strong commitment to the Army Family Covenant, meaning programs that prepare soldiers and families for deployment will be funded as a priority. Other programs mandated by law, such as some environmental programs, would also be funded."

Popular facilities, such as the Fort Gordon Dinner Theatre and the 27-hole Gordon Lakes Golf Course, will not be affected by the cuts because they operate based on their own revenue, Fort Gordon spokesman Buzz Yarnell said.

The budgets for individual installations are not final. But the proposed cuts vary in size, and some are as deep as 40 percent at major installations.

Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch, the head of the Army's Installation Management Command, said in a recent commentary distributed to Army post newspapers that the service has enjoyed unprecedented levels of funding in the past years but that can't continue.

"As the country faces some stiff economic challenges, we are forced to reduce funding and exact a greater level of stewardship over our resources," Lt. Gen. Lynch said. Starting this year, "performance levels for some installation services will be notably less than we've had in recent years and will remain at that level for the foreseeable future."

Mr. Yarnell said he did not know when the post might get final confirmation about the cuts but estimated it could be as long as a month.

Cuts could be 39 percent at Fort Stewart, Ga.; 22 percent at Fort Drum, N.Y.; 25 percent at Fort Bragg, N.C.; and 21 percent at Bamberg, Germany.

Associated Press reports were used in this article.

Reach Adam Folk at (706) 823-3339 or adam.folk@augustachronicle.com.

READ THE STATEMENT

COMMAND RESPONSE TO QUERIES CONCERNING BASE OPERATIONS CUTBACKS

'Should budget considerations require cutbacks in base operations, priority will go to services that impact the life, health and safety of our customers and beneficiaries. Even with possible reduction in services, the Army will maintain its strong commitment to the Army Family Covenant, meaning programs that prepare Soldiers and Families for deployment will be funded as a priority. Other programs mandated by law, such as some environmental programs, would also be funded.

There are currently no plans for any furloughs or reduction in force. However, hiring actions would be closely reviewed and could dictate a degree of hiring freeze. Some contracts may be modified to a level based on funding available. This could impact services such as custodial, grounds and building maintenance, continuing education, automation, etc.

The command wishes to emphasize that our goal is to continue to provide the quality of life that our Soldiers and Families deserve. We will look at any and all ways to reduce the impact to our community should cutbacks be required.'

---Col. Glenn Kennedy, Fort Gordon Garrison Commander.