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Ft. Carson readies for possible furlough days

By Joe Dominguez, Multimedia Journalist - Pueblo Chieftain Bureau , j.dominguez@krdo.com
Published On: Feb 22 2013 11:55:02 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 23 2013 12:52:19 AM CST

After years and years of growth Fort Carson leaders are preparing for the likelihood of sudden budget cuts.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -

After years and years of growth, Fort Carson leaders are preparing for the likelihood of sudden budget cuts.

If Congress does not act by next Friday, it could trigger furlough days for Department of Defense employees on post. That's about 3,000 people.

"We are deeply concerned because without them we can't accomplish our mission, they've been instrumental to our success," said Lt. Col. Armando Hernandez with the 4th Infantry Division. "We've been at work for 10 years and they have been an integral part, they've been essential."

Some feel it will have significant impacts for the Mountain Post outside of the workers that will be forced into four-day weeks.

"We're going to have to go into a shrink mode," said Joe Meehan, an electrician who's worked at Fort Carson for six years. "There's no way we're going to be able to maintain the facility with that drastic a cut."

Meehan has seen Fort Carson grow exponentially. He believes it won't just be the 3,000 DOD workers suffering because of the sequestration but closer to 8,000 people who help support soldiers, their families and other civilian workers. Both civilian contracts and military contracts employ non-military workers in a number of capacities like maintenance readiness, health care, mental health services and soldier support.

"As wonderful an experience as it is to serve the soldiers, to tell them we can't-- it's frankly embarrassing," said Meehan.

The furlough days could begin in late April and stretch into September. Fort Carson leaders said the 22 days off would result in a 20 percent pay cut.

"Their expertise and experience is vital to the Fort Carson mission," said Hernandez.

Fort Carson leaders said civilian employees will get 30 days notice before furlough days begin. They are hoping Congress helps them avoid the need for cutbacks.

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