Families brace for possible furloughs as sequestration looms clo - WNCT

Families brace for possible furloughs as sequestration looms closer

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CHERRY POINT, N.C. -

Our military communities are bracing for the impact of sequestration. Those facing furloughs are worried their livelihood is at stake.

In this economy, many people are struggling to find jobs. Now, people who already have jobs, here on base, could lose some of their hours, if federal spending cuts go through on Friday and lawmakers cannot agree on a better deal.

Robert Stuart is one of many people in Havelock whose family's livelihood is directly tied to Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point. His wife has worked as an IT tech for the naval hospital for 13 years, he said. As early as April, she could be furloughed once a week for up to 22 weeks.

"Any time you lose 20% of your household income, or part of your household income, 20% of one person's household income, that's a huge effect on your budget," said Stuart.

The across-the-board federal spending cuts, known as sequestration, total $1 trillion, half of which would come from the Department of Defense.

All five thousand civilian workers at Cherry Point could face furloughs, including the 3,400 who work for the aircraft maintenance depot, Fleet Readiness Center East (FRC East). It's the largest industrial employer east of I-95, according to Mary Beth Fennell, the department head of the Industrial Integrated Product Team at FRC East.

"Everybody's concerned. Everybody's talking about it. We're getting lots of information from our headquarters. They're being very good about what might happen," Fennell said.

What might happen is FRC East would have 44 fewer aircraft and engines to work on between April and September, said Fennell.

"We're going to best to keep the work flowing through the plan as the reductions occur. We're going to respond the best way we know how," she said.

FRC East has already cut back on non-essential travel and training, and they're on a civilian hiring freeze along with the rest of the Navy, said Fennell.

9 On Your Side took to Facebook to find out what you think about the possible furloughs at FRC East. Kayla Becton, whose husband has worked for FRC East for three years, writes, "We will lose the roof over our heads and food off the table, so just a bit concerned, especially with a newborn baby."

"There are some contractors, that's the only work they have. All they do is work on that base, and if they get shut down, they close, and everybody that works for them is out of a job," said Stuart.

The Chief of Naval Operations, Jonathan Greenert, oversees the Marine Corps. He released a statement on February 13 responding to sequestration. He wrote: "Unless we change course, we will, without proper deliberation, dramatically reduce: our overseas presence, our ability to respond to crises; our efforts to counter terrorism and illicit trafficking; and our material readiness across the Navy."

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