By Carson Gerber Kokomo Tribune
---- — GRISSOM AIR RESERVE BASE — More than 470 civilian employees at Grissom Air Reserve Base will be forced to take unpaid furlough days starting Monday due to federal cuts to the U.S. Department of Defense budget.
Lt. Col. Gary Lockard, public information officer at Grissom, said civilian defense employees at the base must take 11 unpaid furlough days between July 8 and Sept. 30. The unpaid days will reduce pay for employees by about 20 percent over the furlough period, according to the DOD.
The furloughs for defense employees are the result of congressionally mandated budget cuts, more commonly known as sequestration, to federal agencies. The cuts will trim more than $30 billion from the armed forces’ annual budget for fiscal year 2013.
In most instances, employees will be furloughed for one eight-hour period each week for the remainder of the fiscal year. Lockard said the days of the week in which furlough periods are taken will vary among employees based on mission requirements.
“For us, it’s a matter of still flying planes and getting missions done while meeting furlough requirements,” Lockard said.
The furlough will cost Grissom workers $1.5 million in salary, an average of more than $3,100 per worker, according to DOD estimates.
While the mandated furlough will affect most DOD employees at Grissom, Lockard said some workers whose jobs are deemed essential for the protection of life and property are exempt, including security personnel or those currently deployed overseas or who will be deployed later this year.
The original furlough plan announced by the DOD earlier this year called for 22 furlough days. That number was reduced to 11 by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.
Carson Gerber can be reached at 765-854-6739, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.