Federal sequester could cut Youngstown base civilians to 4-day week

By William K. Alcorn



More than 400 civilian employees at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station, headquarters for the 910th Airlift Wing, face mandatory unpaid furloughs of one day a week if the Congress fails to act on spending cuts scheduled to go into effect March 1.

The potential federal cuts stem from the Budget Control Act of 2011, which requires a plan to reduce the federal budget by $85.4 billion this year. If a plan is not proposed and acted on by Congress, then the sequester, or automatic spending cuts, goes into effect.

More will be cut in 2014 and later; from 2014 to 2021, the sequester will cut $87 billion to $92 billion from the discretionary budget every year.

The 2013 sequester includes:

$42.7 billion (7.9 percent) in defense cuts.

$28.7 billion (5.3 percent) in discretionary domestic cuts.

$9.9 billion (2 percent) in Medicare cuts.

$4 billion in other mandatory cuts (5.8 percent to nondefense programs and 7.8 percent to mandatory defense programs.)

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta sent a message Wednesday to all Department of Defense personnel, including the 910th Airlift Wing and Youngstown Air Reserve Station, discussing the department’s preparations for potential sequestration March 1.

The plan includes possible unpaid furloughs for almost all of its 800,000 civilian employees, for one day a week through the rest of fiscal year 2013, which ends Sept. 30, Panetta said.

The furloughs could affect 409 civilian employees at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station with an estimated cost of more than $3 million, said Brig. Gen. Brian E. Dominguez, 910th and YARS commander.

“While the Department of Defense will drive the train on furloughs, the 910th will make every effort possible to circle our wagons around our priority missions,” Dominguez said.

“All affected employees would be provided at least 30 days’ notice prior to executing a furlough, and your benefits will be protected to the maximum extent possible,” said Panetta.

Each workweek being shortened by one day until the end of September would affect YARS’ missions, projects, construction work and services should the furloughs be implemented. However, the extent of those effects is unknown, Dominguez said.

However, he said, according to Air Force guidance, sequestration could reduce baseline flying hours by 18 percent, limiting valuable training time for 910th air crew personnel and members flying YARS’ C-130H Hercules aircraft.

“We will work hard to keep our personnel and the local community in the loop as we receive the latest information about this developing situation,” said Dominguez.

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