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Proposed budget cuts could cost Fort Gordon commissary customers

Thursday, March 6, 2014 6:23 PM
Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 1:51 AM
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Rachel Anderson, the proud Army wife of a Fort Gordon soldier, can easily see the savings add up every week she shops at the post’s commissary.

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The Commissary on post at Fort Gordon could see prices rise if a $1.4 billion annual subsidy is trimmed as part of the budget cut process.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
The Commissary on post at Fort Gordon could see prices rise if a $1.4 billion annual subsidy is trimmed as part of the budget cut process.

She saves $7 on a bag of Beneful dog food, another $2.50 on a 12-pack of Scott’s ultra-soft toilet paper, and $1 each on a gallon of 2-percent milk, a bottle of cocoa-butter lotion and small containers of Chobani Greek yogurt.

By the time she checks out, she estimates that she has saved at least $25 on her family’s weekly grocery bill, which Anderson said on average totals about $100.

“I love having a commissary where military families can reap the benefits of mostly lower prices,” said Anderson, who along with her husband of seven years – Staff Sgt. Aaron Anderson – has two children, ages 3 years and 6 months old. “If we were forced to shop off post for groceries, I would have to go from place to place to save money, and I believe I still wouldn’t save what I do at the commissary. I would spend more of my time and money in gas, driving around and checking prices and sales.”

Though price comparisons conducted by the Defense Commissary Agency show that customers on average save $2.6 billion, or 30 percent on their grocery bills, military families in the Augusta area, such as the Andersons, could soon see a steady rise in prices if they shop on post.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced major cuts in his department’s 2015 budget last week that would cut the $1.4 billion taxpayer subsidy military food stores use to charge their customers less for merchandise by $1 billion over three years.

President Obama released the proposal, which include shrinking Army troop levels to its lowest enrollment since before the buildup of World War II, to Congress Tuesday. Hagel said in a statement this week that the budget includes the recommendations he announced and that it is “responsible, balanced and realistic.”

“No strategy or budget is risk-free,” he said. “Even the largest defense budgets have limits – as does our knowledge and ability to predict the future. But the strategy articulated by the Quadrennial Defense Review is one that department leaders and I believe is the right strategy given the reality we face.”

While community leaders expect the arrival of new Army cyber and intelligence jobs to insulate Fort Gordon troop levels, commissary cuts could hold significant consequences on post.

In 2013, the Fort Gordon commissary collected $40.4 million in sales from a total of 624,535 transactions on post, according to Rick Brink, spokesman for the Defense Commissary Agency.

Anderson said her husband’s father and grandfather served in the Army and Air Force and that Aaron, who has been deployed three times, twice to Afghanistan and once to Kuwait, plans on making a career out of the military because of the benefits and retirement promises.

“I love having a hero for a spouse,” she said.

Though commissary customers currently pay a 5 percent surcharge to fund store construction and renovations, Anderson said she has done her own research over the last few months on prices inside and outside the commissary and noticed the fee is worth the cost.

She said it’s only about half as steep as the area’s 8 percent sales tax and much more beneficial than paying for a membership at Sam’s Club, where she said she has used a one-year free trial to buy foods and brands that either are not on sale or available at the commissary.

“I wouldn’t buy a membership because we would not benefit,” she said. “We could just buy the same things at the commissary without a membership fee.”

Anderson said she spends between $20 and $25 in produce every time she goes to the commissary.

Cucumbers range from 35 to 69 cents each; a head of Romaine lettuce is $1.25; and a 5-pound bag of red delicious apples is $2.50, Anderson said.

She said usually Wal-Mart has similar prices and that she knows some stores charge more.

She said, however, that she is certain of one thing.

“I would definitely be spending double at other grocery stores without the commissary around,” she said.

COMMISSARY PRICE COMPARISON

Rachel Anderson, wife of Staff Sgt. Aaron Anderson, said her recent study found the following savings:

ItemCommissary priceRetail price
Gallon 2-percent milk$3.25-$3.50$4.25
12-pack Scott’s ultra-soft toilet paper$6$8.50
Small container Chobani Greek yogurt$0.89$1
Cocoa Butter lotion$3.19$5
Brookside Dark Chocolate
Pomegranate chews
$2.71$4
Bag of Beneful dog food$17$24
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dichotomy
37375
Points
dichotomy 03/06/14 - 09:37 pm
10
3
Obama can't cut the

Obama can't cut the freeloaders and bums one nickel but he and his sorry excuse for a Sec Def can sure screw the enlisted soldiers and elderly retirees.

fedex227
11187
Points
fedex227 03/06/14 - 11:24 pm
4
9
Military retirees aside,
Unpublished

with current military enlisted and officer salaries these days, it's really hard to justify subsidizing commisaries. Just sayin'.

GiantsAllDay
10463
Points
GiantsAllDay 03/06/14 - 11:24 pm
4
7
They should look at it from

They should look at it from the point of view that it was a good ride while it lasted.

thauch12
7066
Points
thauch12 03/07/14 - 12:01 am
5
6
With the amount of

With the amount of competition in today's marketplace, it's really funny that Ms. Anderson thinks she is saving money by shopping at the commissary. I know for a fact that I can get all the things on that list cheaper at Costco. Wasteful government spending is wasteful government spending no matter who the government is wastefully spending on. This is a great example of how some things should just be left to private enterprise. There is no reason for tax dollars to go to these useless government subsidies...

deestafford
31704
Points
deestafford 03/07/14 - 12:35 am
10
2
Hagel had the audacity to tell some young airmen and...

Hagel had the audacity to tell some young airmen and soldiers at Joint Base Eustis-Langley the other week that they did not join the military for the benefits but for other reasons.

Benefits such as PX, commissary, medical et al are why many young people join the military. This is especially true now that many young soldiers have families when they join.

Benefits do matter and were part of the main reason I joined the Army in 1963. I knew that if I served my country and retired I'd get the promised benefits (Not all of the promises were kept.) All throughout my time the politicians would hold down raises and say they were putting them into housing allowances and subsistence allowances instead of base pay. (This was to reduce the amount of pay used to calculate the retirement pay.)

The benefits are earned! They are not given and not a waste! The life of a soldier can be pure hell at times and nothing in the civilian world comes close to it.

That Marxist in the White House wants to take money from the Protecters and give it to the moochers!

Don't short change the people and families who are willing to write a check to the American people with the cost filled in "Up to and including my life."

fedex227
11187
Points
fedex227 03/07/14 - 12:56 am
4
8
deestaforfd ... you're so off the mark it's not even funny.
Unpublished

Here's just an example ... an 0-3 (captain) is currently making over 66,000 a year. Are you willing to deduct from your pay to supplement his retirement?

Little Old Lady
8690
Points
Little Old Lady 03/07/14 - 07:09 am
9
1
Yes

Yes I am willing to supplement his pay and or retirement. Much more that paying these deadbeats who will not work and keep having babies. Let them get a job and I would be willing to help them also. That soldier earned his salary and benefits.

deestafford
31704
Points
deestafford 03/07/14 - 08:01 am
9
1
Fedex, yes and I did...

Fedex, yes and I did. You see that captain was not born a captain. He had to work his way up to that rank. The same holds true for colonels and generals and sergeants major. They earned those benefits. You cannot say the same for the moochers of society who have never contributed anything to the safety and security of this country.

The number one priority of the federal government is to protect the inhabitants of America not provide for the care and upkeep of the moocher class. Why should we be spending so much on paying for the children of unwed mothers who continue to have multiple children from multiple fathers?

Which is more important to the country...the unwed mother or the soldier? This year the president's budget calls for over $950 billion in welfare programs. This does not include the billions spent on education which produces children who cannot read and do math at the basic level.

agustinian
723
Points
agustinian 03/07/14 - 08:15 am
2
4
Banned Phrase

Let's ban the phrase "just sayin'" -- it is redundant and somehow excuses an otherwise stupid remark. If you just said it, you don't need to add "just sayin'".

soapy_725
44097
Points
soapy_725 03/07/14 - 08:17 am
0
0
Commissary used to be be "all tax exempt". Thus the savings.
Unpublished

Commissary used to be be "all tax exempt". Thus the savings.

jimmymac
47306
Points
jimmymac 03/07/14 - 11:20 am
1
0
CUTS
Unpublished

Obama hates the military and doesn't miss a chance to throw them under the bus. He knows most have disdain for him so this is his way of getting even. He knows the welfare moochers are his most loyal backers so they're definitely off the board for cutbacks.

itsanotherday1
48161
Points
itsanotherday1 03/07/14 - 12:28 pm
4
0
I'm with dichotomy on this.

I'm with dichotomy on this. It is insulting to cut soldiers' subsidies while increasing those on the dole.

fedex227
11187
Points
fedex227 03/07/14 - 01:18 pm
1
5
You're right, you don't start out as a Captain ...
Unpublished

The average Sergeant (E4) in the military makes about $37,000 a year. I just don't see the need for subsidizing commissaries ... just sayin' ;-)

Riverman1
93284
Points
Riverman1 03/07/14 - 01:35 pm
6
0
Just Because They Breathe

Plus there's the convenience factor for the active duty families on and near the fort. They often can't join Costco, pay the fee and drive way over there. I can do without it and as someone said, it was a good ride. But keep in mind, they are also talking about increasing the cost of medical care for retirees. So all these cost cutting measures are aimed at the military with none aimed at the those getting free everything under the sun just because they breathe.

RunningMan
346
Points
RunningMan 03/07/14 - 02:12 pm
1
4
Our Soldiers are Doing Just Fine

No they are not getting rich, but the average soldier is doing just fine. Stop making this into the end of the world for them/us/me. When that day comes I will let you all know. In the mean time this is not such a big deal as many is making it out to be. Stop getting on the President and others because you fail to understand the bigger picture, and that is the Armed Services and the private sector that supported it, got too big over the past 10 years and now its time to get smaller. Its a fact of everyday life that we all must do at some point.

CobaltGeorge
175116
Points
CobaltGeorge 03/07/14 - 02:39 pm
2
1
fedex227

You demonstrate your Zero intelligence every time you type on the keyboard.

1. An E-4 is not a sergeant!

2. An E-4 with over 2 years yearly pay is $2522.16!

You need to stick with MSNBC to get your degree in spinning your comments.

fedex227
11187
Points
fedex227 03/07/14 - 02:36 pm
3
2
"So all these cost cutting measures ...
Unpublished

... are aimed at the military with none aimed at the those getting free everything under the sun just because they breathe."

Agreed, and let's be fair, that includes corporate welfare. I think it's time to look at all government programs. But for some reason conservatives seem fixated on only one segment of our society.

Riverman1
93284
Points
Riverman1 03/07/14 - 02:45 pm
7
1
What Corporate Welfare Really Is

FedEx, frankly when "corporate welfare" is spoken of what's really being said is that they get to keep more of the money THEY earned. But that whole subject is a knee jerk thing to some. Most tax credits are given to companies because they do something the Congress agrees is worthy such as investing in things that may help in the future.

CobaltGeorge
175116
Points
CobaltGeorge 03/07/14 - 02:46 pm
4
1
FAIR Right,

Corporate welfare, as you call it, is a working entity and productive.

The other segment of our society, are lazy, non-productive, uneducated except how to produce other segments of that society. They are the main financial sucking deficit of this once great nation..

fedex227
11187
Points
fedex227 03/07/14 - 03:10 pm
2
3
CG ... you're right.
Unpublished

When I was coming up through the ranks an E4 in the Air Force was a sergeant, times change. But you also left out non-taxable BAH and special duty pay, clothing allowances, enlistment and reenlistment bonuses, hazardous duty pay, proficiency pay, etc. Anyone in the current military crying poor simply does not know how to manage their money. I don't mean to sound insensitive, I spent 26 years in the military. It's just a simple fact.

SMSgt fedex227, PhD, MSNBC

Riverman1
93284
Points
Riverman1 03/07/14 - 02:51 pm
4
0
@Running Man

"Stop getting on the President and others because you fail to understand the bigger picture, and that is the Armed Services and the private sector that supported it, got too big over the past 10 years and now its time to get smaller."

Sure there's always been downsizing after wars. What's new here is cutting back on basic, traditional benefits for those who remain on active duty and the retirees.

CobaltGeorge
175116
Points
CobaltGeorge 03/07/14 - 03:00 pm
2
2
Well, SMSgt fedex227, PhD, MSNBC

With the attitude you now have, I sure am glad you are still are not in the military, because if and when martial law is declared, and the order to kill American citizens given by your president, you would do your very best to get another medal.

fedex227
11187
Points
fedex227 03/07/14 - 03:07 pm
2
0
Riverman1 ...
Unpublished

Hate to disagree, the goverment paid $41 billion last year to oil companies for research and development, $83 billion to the five wealthiest banks in the U.S. for borrowing fees, $270 billion to pharmaceutical companies. How about billionaires like David Rockefeller and Charles Schwab getting millions in farm subsidies to not grow crops on land they own. If that's where you want your tax money going ...

CobaltGeorge
175116
Points
CobaltGeorge 03/07/14 - 03:23 pm
2
1
Nothing But

payback for the election of the King SMNCICBHO, the Hammer & Sickle man. At least it is money that could not be spent on Sub 8 housing.

Riverman1
93284
Points
Riverman1 03/07/14 - 04:12 pm
2
1
"Hate to disagree, the

"Hate to disagree, the goverment paid $41 billion last year to oil companies for research and development, $83 billion to the five wealthiest banks in the U.S. for borrowing fees, $270 billion to pharmaceutical companies. How about billionaires like David Rockefeller and Charles Schwab getting millions in farm subsidies to not grow crops on land they own. If that's where you want your tax money going ..."

They did not give them anything. They were given tax deductions which is letting them keep more of THEIR OWN money. As far as those getting farm subsidies, Congress includes those because they believe it helps the farmers. Less of something being produced means better profits. Democrats and Republicans support the subsidies. I disagree with the subsidies, but FDR felt they were necessary to save the farmers during the Depression and they have survived. That's the history of them.

CobaltGeorge
175116
Points
CobaltGeorge 03/07/14 - 04:14 pm
2
1
You Know What I Like About The Commissary.

1. Price

2. Even if you are in a line of 30 or more, in less than 5 minutes, you will be at a cashier, doing your best to place the items fast enough on the belt. By the time you move your cart out from the registry, sype your card, your items are loaded, you out the door to the car.

Local grocery stores, if you are in line of 3 ahead of you, you may be in line for 15 to 20 minutes before placing the 2 items that you have, and then maybe another 10 minutes to have someone check the price for the item, plus have the bread fatten or eggs broken. Total nightmare!

CobaltGeorge
175116
Points
CobaltGeorge 03/07/14 - 04:16 pm
0
1
Question?

What is a SMSgt?

Riverman1
93284
Points
Riverman1 03/07/14 - 04:35 pm
0
0
CGee, it's an E-8

CGee, it's an E-8

CobaltGeorge
175116
Points
CobaltGeorge 03/07/14 - 04:44 pm
0
1
E-8

Oh, Master Sergeant. I see, You were a Sergeant Master Sergeant.

Riverman1
93284
Points
Riverman1 03/07/14 - 04:45 pm
2
0
I wasn't, but I think he was

I wasn't, but I think he was a Senior Master Sergeant. It's an Air Force thing.

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