Carlisle defense workers warned of likely furloughs

Civilian employees at the Carlisle Barracks have been told to plan for up to 22 unpaid furlough days if automatic federal government spending cuts kick in on March 1.

Furloughed employees would be required to take one day of unpaid leave a week, probably starting in late April, until the end of the fiscal year on September 30, according to a letter from the Deputy Commandant.

Lt. Col. Elizabeth Robbins, spokesperson for the Pentagon, told The Sentinel of Carlisle that the furloughs would have a significant impact on the local economy and beyond.

“If you or I lose a day in the [work] week, we'd be less prone to eat out or get that new pair of running shoes. We're expecting about $150 million less entering the economy in Pennsylvania,” Robbins told the newspaper. “It will [also] significantly impact our readiness and ability to respond to our country.”

The Defense Department furloughs would likely affect 834 civilian workers – about 80 percent of the workforce – at Carlisle Barracks and the Army War College.

All affected workers would be notified at least 30 days in advance.

It will also impact surrounding businesses, too.

“It would have an impact on us,” said David Brooks, co-owner of Alibis Eatery and Spirits in Carlisle.

Brooks estimates that 20 percent of his business comes from the Barracks and the U.S. Army War College. He believes the cutbacks would take a huge chuck out of his bottom line. Still, the retired Army colonel is still keeping a close eye on the issue.

“Wait and see for them as it is for us, as what comes out of this downsizing,” Brooks said.

Those with the Pennsylvania National Guard are also worried about the cuts.

Leaders are worried it could affect response time and readiness. We spoke to Pennsylvania Congressman Scott Perry Wednesday night. He is also a guardsman.

“It's saddening, but it's not unexpected,” Perry said. “I, like many, think that those men and women who've devoted their lives and their careers to our country deserve much better.”

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