By Don Bolding
Killeen Daily Herald
The local effect of the Fort Hood garrison's budget crunch was expected to be minimal, although a few companies had reported layoffs believed to be connected to the decrease in money flowing from government contracts.
Col. Tori Bruzese, garrison commander, stressed at a news conference Thursday afternoon at Fort Hood's main gate that no salaried military or Civil Service personnel at the fort had been affected, and none are likely to be. The cuts are confined to contractors who supply services not directly connected to operations – such as grounds maintenance, pest control, janitorial services.
"We will review our expenditures month by month and increase or decrease services as necessary," she said, "and we're a lot smarter about how to allocate than we were."
Bruzese and Heart of Texas Defense Alliance executive director Bill Parry both said the effects on the post would amount to longer cycles between treatments. Where a floor was swept once a day, it might now only be swept twice a week.
"The grass may be a little longer and so forth, but other than that, you won't notice a difference. And where cleanliness is critical, as in medical spaces, I'm sure it will continue to be," Parry said.
Officials qualified to comment on the cutbacks at most companies that might be affected were unavailable Thursday afternoon, but Central Texas Workforce Centers board chair Susan Kamas had records of three defense contractors who had reported layoffs in the last couple of days. U.S. Logistics had released 49 and Anteon Corp. released 10. Atlantic Building Maintenance laid off 25 and might release another 25, Kamas said.
"Some of them signed a sheet set up for persons who were laid off," she said. "It's wise and commendable of them to do that immediately."
People who are laid off, if they're certified by their companies, can get federal funds for job-search assistance and retraining, and their unemployment insurance claims can be sped up, Kamas said.
Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce president John Crutchfield said he had only heard of the budget problems in a conversation with Parry.
Harker Heights chamber president Bill Kozlik said, "We're talking about employees who are already trained and experienced at jobs that will continue to be in demand at Fort Hood.
"In some cases, another contractor may come in and submit a lower bid, and the new contractor will often rehire most or all of any people laid off. This scenario repeats itself with or without budget problems, so any dire consequences if there are no permanent cuts are unlikely."
Contact Don Bolding at firstname.lastname@example.org