Local economy could take hit as 'sequester' arrives
Stephanne Van says that there are about 9,000 federal employees in the Yuma area, herself among them.
With President Barack Obama signing the order for “sequester” budget cuts Friday evening, Van, a civilian secretary at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, knows what it means for her household. Furloughs are work cuts, and work cuts are pay cuts.
Work cuts are also service cuts, and eventually those service cuts could hurt the broader local economy – and that's what she says she wants to impress upon people, not individual concerns.
“With 9,000 federal employees being furloughed, the services are not going to be provided to the community of Yuma,” Van said.
Van, a secretary in the environmental services department at MCAS Yuma, is also president of the base's chapter of the American Federation of Government Employees. She said there's a lot of interdependence among the government agencies that have operations in Yuma.
Agencies like the Department of Transportation (such as employees at Yuma International Airport) and Customs and Border Patrol, and military installations like MCAS Yuma and Yuma Proving Ground, are intertwined in a circle, “and in the middle of that circle is Yuma.”
She gave the example of the airport (which shares airspace and runways with the air station). If an air traffic controller is on furlough, there is less service, which could mean fewer flights.
Cuts won't affect active-duty military personnel. But among civilians at Yuma Proving Ground, for example, the 700 or so directly-employed workers could be furloughed to trim as much as $3.6 million off the payroll this fiscal year. That doesn't include YPG's civilian contractors. At MCAS Yuma, where about 900 civilians are directly employed, it wasn't clear what the payroll impact could be but those employees typically represent about $50 million in wages. Furloughs are expected to be for eight hours a week, every week, starting April 25 and lasting through the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told Senators in February that cuts to CBP funds would increase wait times at airports, affect security between land ports of entry, slow screening and entry for travelers into the U.S., reduce overtime for frontline operations and decrease backfill hiring.
Hillary Davis can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6857. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSHillaryDavis or on Twitter at @YSHillaryDavis.