Sequestration expected to impact Havelock

Published: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 16:27 PM.

Business, community, city and even base leaders are trying to determine the exact impacts that sequestration would have on the Havelock area.

One thing is certain: If Congress fails to act by Friday, automatic cuts in defense will likely trigger civilian worker furloughs at Cherry Point, resulting in a 20 percent cut in pay for about 5,000 workers beginning in mid to late April.

"I don’t know what sequestration will bring," Col. Philip Zimmerman, commanding officer of Cherry Point, told members of the New Bern Chamber Military Alliance last week. "I have received no guidance on that."

Furlough plans would result in one unpaid day off for civilian workers per week for 22 weeks. That reduction in pay for such a long period has the business community concerned about the impact.

"As far as the impact on local businesses, I think it could make it somewhat difficult because the economy has made it tough to start with and having less money for civil servants to spend on base is only going to make it worse," said Marie Ortiz, owner of Make it Personally Yours in Havelock. "It’s going to impact the surrounding area for sure."

Ortiz, who retired from a civilian job on base after 31 years, said she could understand what civilian families would do if faced with furloughs.

"It would make a major recalculation of our lifestyle," she said. "We would have to take a step back and see what would have to really be eliminated. Most of the people who work on base count on every penny and a lot of them are going from payday to payday, even with as much money as they make. People tend to grow into their living and some of them overgrow from their living standards, and it would probably be a major devastation for a lot of people because they’re just barely making it."



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