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Leaders talk furloughs and sequestration at luncheon

By Juliana Valencia
Published On: Aug 26 2013 07:00:00 PM CDT

Military furloughs for this year have ended, but that hasn't stopped people from worrying about next year.

The Havelock chamber of commerce and allies for Cherry Point's tomorrow hosted a luncheon Monday, with elected officials to give the public an update on the issue.

HAVELOCK, CRAVEN COUNTY -

Although military furloughs for this year have ended, some are still worried about the future. On Monday, the Havelock Chamber of Commerce and Allies for Cherry Point's Tomorrow hosted a luncheon, where elected officials gave the public an update on the issue.

Sequestration resulted in six days of furloughs for civilian workers at military bases in Eastern Carolina. Col. Blayne Spratlin, the commanding officer for Fleet Readiness Center East, said it's not just the loss of pay that affects workers.

"Our primary focus is to support the war fighter, and when we can't do our job, it’s demotivating if you can't go out there and do what it takes," Spratlin said.

State Sen. Harry Brown said he thinks next year will be worse.

 "I really do have concerns, and I know the congressman does as well. So again, as a state, I think we must do all we can to protect our bases and make them as attractive as possible to the military," Brown said.

Congressman Walter B. Jones said that doesn't mean the workload will be less.

“I think the work coming to Cherry Point is going to be steady and they are going to have a pretty heavy workload. But it’s like the colonel said, everything now is based on what we know about in 2014, and when you are dealing with a nation that can't pay its own bills, you're dealing with a nation that’s in sequestration."

Jones said if Congress can come out with a new budget, it will take some of the pressure off military leaders.

Col. Spratlin said the sequestration and furloughs have cost them 35 percent of their workload. That comes out to 400,000 hours lost this fiscal year. He said the furloughs has affected 3,300 of his employees, from engineers to technicians.

"What we are going to do now is regain momentum that we had before the furloughs and continue to provide the aircraft and components for the war fighter," Spratlin said.

Based on the information they have now, Colonel Spratlin said they are planning on a reduction in work hours again next year.