COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo - Sequestration, defense cut fears have trickled down to Fort Carson in a big way. Up to 180 staffers with KIRA have received possible layoff notices. The letter tells them that it could happen as early as March 1st. It's part of military wide budget reductions.
If you think of Fort Carson as a city, KIRA staffers are the infrastructure staff who get things fixed or do snow removal or other necessary functions on post. KIRA has 331 people who quietly do this every day. It includes electrical, heating or plumbing work and much more.
Joseph Meehan is an electrician who is not in panic mode. He is in preparation mode if the layoffs happen. He is worried about his family if he has to look for a new job, Meehan is also nervous about the quality of life of the soldiers if he and other staffers get laid off. Meehan said this about Congress, "It doesn't seem to be a problem to bring Congress together when they need to vote themselves a raise. There wasn't a problem when we chose to deploy these men and women. Now we are trying to service their needs and that's where my frustration begins."
If the layoffs happen, emergency services by existing KIRA staff would be done quickly. Non-emergency work could take a while to be completed. Fewer people means fewer services getting done in a timely manner.
Charles Johnson is a union rep with the I.B.E.W., "Soldiers are not going to call up and get immediate response with lights not working and heat not working. It'll be life safety issues that will be the focus."
Wayne Pastorius is also one of the KIRA staffers worrying about his job and how it will affect soldiers on the mountain post, "First reaction is hopefully there will be jobs available."
I did get a response from 5th District Congressman Doug Lamborn about the fears of these workers and a deal in D.C. to make sure these layoffs don't happen.
Here is that full response from him: "These potential layoff notices are disturbing, but not surprising. Nearly a year ago, the House Armed Services Committee heard testimony predicting just this result. That expert testimony leads me to believe this is just the first indicator of the extraordinary economic damage defense cuts will do, in addition to the national security crisis that will follow. In the last congress, I made at least 12 different attempts to reduce or eliminate the impact of these defense cuts. The White House exacerbated the problem by refusing to let our military plan for the arbitrary cuts that originated in the White House. These cuts were not the creation of one political party of even one branch of government, and they require good faith efforts from everyone in Washington to resolve them. Unfortunately, I see little effort from the White House to resolve these cuts in a way that supports our troops and our economy."