News 12 at 11 o'clock / Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013
Fort Gordon's main gate. (May 2, 2011 / WRDW-TV)
FORT GORDON, Ga. (WRDW) -- Thousands of people drive to work through Fort Gordon's gates every day.
"It's the largest employer in the area," explained Col. Retired Thom Tuckey. "They have between 23,000 to 24,000 employees out there, about 8,000 of whom are civilians and contractors."
Tuckey is the executive director of the CSRA Alliance for Fort Gordon and a former garrison commander of Fort Gordon.
"You're basically a city manager, trying to make the budget work every week," Tuckey said.
Tuckey says right now Fort Gordon is operating with only 70 percent of last year's budget.
"It's 10 times as bad, if not worse, in terms of trying to make every dollar count, and they're having to go through and eliminate things that you never would have thought of eliminating 10 years ago," he said.
If Congress doesn't reach a deal on the sequester, the Fort faces more potential budget cuts and every civilian employee is looking at up to 22 furlough days.
"I'm concerned about two things," said J.C. Mathews. "I'm concerned about, in the face of additional budget cuts, should I need to furlough my employees or be furloughed myself, how am I gonna get the work done?"
Mathews is the public affairs officer at Fort Gordon, one of thousands of employees who would work one less day a week.
"The fact of the matter is there are people on the installation who depend on me to do what I do each day and that's playing out hundreds of times in duty sections all across this installation," Matthews said.
Besides the work, the biggest effect is the pay cuts. If all furlough days really happen, it would be a 20 percent reduction in pay for all civilian employees.
"Take that 20 percent away and they have nothing left. I mean, they're basically paying all the bills they have to pay and not able to do anything else," Tuckey said.
Less money to spend could mean less money for the city of Augusta.
"It's over a $2 billion a year economic impact on the community, so when these people are no longer able to shop and do the things they would like to do in the community, that affects everything," Tuckey said.
For now, they wait.
"We don't know what we don't know. We're planning for the worst and hoping for the best," Mathews said.
If furloughs are required, employees would get their notice in late March. The earliest furloughs could take place are late April.
The deadline to reach a deal is 11:59 p.m. Friday.