LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. (KTHV) - The Little Rock Air Force Base will have to cut $2 million out of its base operations budget under sequestration.
Public affairs specialist Arlo Taylor said if sequestration is triggered, the unpaid furlough policy for civilian Defense Department employees will start in late April and affect more than 600 employees at the base; however, it will not affect the contractor force, which makes up the bulk of the civilian work force.
Taylor said the cuts will be made by deferring repairs to two conversion hangars used for electronic and mechanical work on C-130 cargo planes and a training facility.
"This doesn't just affect Little Rock Air Force Base. It affects the Guard, the Reserves. It affects every agency, county, city in the state of Arkansas," Amy Mattison said, CEO of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce.
Colonel Brian S. Robinson with the United States Air Force said more than 600 personnel at the Base will be affected by the looming cuts including furloughs one day a week, for 22 weeks.
"We have implemented a hiring freeze for external personnel that we're looking to fill positions with, and our term and temporary employees have either been let go at the end of their contract, or they know if their contract comes around, they will most likely not be renewed," Colonel Robinson said.
Under sequestration, Little Rock Air Force Base will have to cut $2 million from its base operating budget, and those cuts will come from a variety of areas.
"Conferences and meetings have been curtailed or canceled. We shortened our average flying hour, or flying period from a training line from a standard 5-hour window for flying to a 3.5 hours, to try to extend the number of flying hours we have well into the fiscal year," Colonel Robinson added.
The cuts are also affecting businesses. Jason Schulz has managed Chili's in Jacksonville for about 8 years.
"It's vital to the success of Jacksonville right now. Obviously it's an ample part of the community right now, the population. It affects us greatly," Schulz said.
Cutbacks from Washington would trickle down and force Arkansans to stop eating out.
"That would be a very big deal for us. Obviously, with the population they bring in, most of the businesses here would definitely be affected by any cuts that were made," Schulz said.
The blame game continues in Washington. Democrats say Republicans are stalling and not doing enough to increase needed revenue. Meanwhile the Republicans say the Democrats keep spending, and that's what led to massive cuts in the first place. Either way, no compromise has been reached at this time.
The deadline for lawmakers is 11:59 p.m. on March 1.