Delays in furloughs don't bring optimism

Published: Tuesday, March 26, 2013 at 10:26 AM.

Though official notification of possible furloughs for civilian defense workers has been delayed, the area is still expecting to take a hit economically as the effects of sequestration take hold.

The biggest impact could be the furloughs, in which civilian workers at Cherry Point would be forced to take one unpaid day off for each week for 22 weeks. Over the short term, the furloughs would represent a 20 percent cut in pay during the furlough period.

But area leaders see sequestration’s effects reaching far beyond the gates of Cherry Point.

“In addition to the furlough of civilian base employees, there are a lot of civilian contractors who will suffer as well,” said Marc Finlayson, consultant for the Allies for Cherry Point’s Tomorrow lobby group. “I believe all non-essential contracts are suspended after April 1.”

The 1,364 open contracts at the air station involve everything from work gloves to $100 million for engineering and logistics support, said Jamie Norment, of Ward and Smith, who is heading Craven County’s coordinated effort to lessen the impact of the massive federal defense cuts. Sequestration could impact things as basic as grounds and equipment maintenance.

Meanwhile, Coastal Carolina Regional Airport Director Tom Braaten got official word Friday that the FAA contract air traffic control tower will not be funded because of sequestration.

The FAA gave a reprieve to 24 of the 173 towers that were to have closed, citing negative effects on national interests, but will stick with its decision for others to clip $627 million from its $16 billion budget by Sept. 30.

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