Furloughs begin at MacDill, 3500 workers affected

TAMPA - As a long holiday weekend draws to a close for some, over 3500 civilian workers at MacDill Air Force base are getting ready for more time off. 

But it's not really a good thing.

Each employee must take a weekly day off without pay until the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30 -- 11 days total.

Most of the employees — about 2,200 — work for the 6th Air Mobility Wing. Another 900 work at U.S. Special Operations Command and 450 more at U.S. Central Command, the nation's two premier combat commands.

Base officials estimate that the loss to each employee affected is right at about $4,200 in salary per person over the next three months.

That means many folks will have to be dipping into savings or simply cutting back.  And that has some local business leaders worried. 

As the announced-in-March furloughs kick in this week, and force the civilian workers on this base to take a day a week off for the next 11 weeks, its going to have a trickle down effect…

"Furlough is going to hurt them in the pocket," said Pedro Cotto, who manages the Express Oil Change and Service Center just up Dale Mabry Highway from the base entrance.  "Not only them," he continued, "but us too and the business around us."

Pedro says he has already seen the effects of the furlough as folks started planning for the decreased work and pay months ago -- changing their spending habits, and priorities.  With over 35 hundred affected workers here at MacDill, that means over $8 million dollars in pay won't go out to them -- or into the community for purchases like meals, or furniture,or car repairs.

"Its going to hurt us because customers are going to put off oil changes and put off the maintenance that the vehicle needs  also could hurt them in the long run," he said.

Most families have been preparing for this day for months, so much so that there really isn't an expectation of change in mindset this week.  Just a continuation of the fear that these cuts could keep coming, weakening not only the nation's security, but also those who service those who serve.  Still no one's panicking… not yet.  

"Thats' what we do best," said Mr. Cotto, referring to the ability to 'go with the flow.'  "We'll weather the storm and take it day by day."


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