Posted: Feb 28, 2013 10:50 AM by Janine Reyes
Updated: Feb 28, 2013 6:47 PM
KINGSVILLE -- Sequestration is now just one day away and as the March 1st deadline approaches with no fix offered from Congress, hundreds of civilian employees at NAS Kingsville are bracing for a pay cut.
The military and government contractors they support are also on standby, concerned about how that will impact their operations.
"My fortune cookie today said my onion could be somebody else's water lilly, and its true," said Installation Business Manager Diana Zavala, a civilian employee. "We could be without a job."
Personally, she is prepared to survive sequestration and the cuts it will bring to her pay. The most likely scenario is that she will be furloughed one day a week for 22 weeks this fiscal year. "I already did the math and 20%, its what I usually put aside for a rainy day," said Zavala.
But, most of the other 488 civilians facing a 20% cut in pay are not so lucky.
"I'm very concerned about their livelihood, I'm also very concerned about what that does to our operations here at the naval air station," said Captain Mark McLaughlin, Kingsville's base commander.
Captain McLaughlin knows NAS Kingville will be hit hard, but until he gets a directive from Washington, he doesn't really know how big the impact will be.
"It could impact the amount of flying hours, how often we keep the airfield open, because we may not have the funding to turn the lights on," McLaughlin said. He says they have to give civilian employees 30 days notice before furloughs begin.
Although the civilian employees will see the biggest personal impact, the military and military contractors are bracing for it too.
"The impact to operations which affects the contractors and furloughs which affects the civilian workforce, and then what do we do with the military guys left over," McLaughlin questioned. "I don't have enough guys to oversee all of those jobs," he said.
As for Diana, an employee facing a personal and professional impact, she fears its not just her that will feel the pinch. "This is one of our main employers in our little community, so yes it will impact the whole city of Kingsville," she said.
Another potential impact, although not nearly as big a concern for the commander, is the air show that his base puts on. That comes every two years. The last air show they had was in 2012, the next one is set for next year, but he says that will likely be cut from the budget since they have to fund the event themselves.
He says air shows are a good way to give back to the community and a good way to recruit.
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