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WUSF News Staff
Off The Base
Mon February 25, 2013
MacDill Facing Cuts in People, Flight-Time and Facilities
The home to U.S. Central Command, U.S. Special Operations Command and the U.S. Air Force 6th Air Mobility Wing, MacDill Air Force Base, is readying for mandatory cuts that will affect people, facilities and flight-readiness.
If sequestration - Congress’ mandatory budget cuts – goes into effect Friday, no state or facility will escape the shockwave.
Most of the 3,000 civilian workers at MacDill Air Force Base will essentially take a 20 percent cut in pay. Sequestration mandates that they take a weekly, one-day furlough beginning in late April through September.
Col. Scott DeThomas, commander of MacDill and the 6th Air Mobility Wing, employs about 1,000 of those civilians at MacDill.
“The sense of urgency goes up March 1st since the fiscal year is half over,” DeThomas said. “A 10 percent cut over a 12-month period is not so bad, but when you do it in a short time like we’re about to face it has a much more dramatic impact.”
In addition to civilian furloughs, more than $6 million in maintenance and construction projects would be postponed on MacDill and flying hours for the 16 KC-135 refueling tankers and three Gulf Stream jets would be cut 20 percent.
DeThomas was even more certain about the fate of MacDill’s Air Fest.
“The Air Fest is pretty close to being canceled. We’re not officially there yet, but actually very close,” DeThomas said late Friday. “The money that we’ve committed already was minimal up to this point. Our next big outlay of funds would be March 5th.”
But prior to that date, DeThomas anticipates the Air Force, which has to cut $20 billion in the current fiscal year, will cancel all upcoming air shows. MacDill’s Air Fest is scheduled the weekend of April 6th and 7th.