BY TOM BUSSELBERG
LAYTON – Two weeks after unpaid furloughs began at Hill AFB and across the nation, a high Department of Defense official is saying they could continue into the next fiscal year.
Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter said late last week the department is planning for similar budget cuts that may continue into fiscal year 2014, which starts Oct. 1, and perhaps beyond.
“If a budget deal can’t be put together by Congress that can be approved by both houses of Congress” for signing by the president, “then we will drift into next year with some continuation of what we’ve had this year,” he was quoted by the American Forces Press Service as saying.
Planning for such contingencies reportedly started four months ago, Carter said. They include “the possibility this does become the new normal and that our budget is simply cut and stays low for a period of time.”
Richard Essary, with Hill AFB’s 75th Air Base Wing Office of Public Affairs, emphasized such discussion “is preliminary.”
He emphasized that “Whatever fiscal challenges are present, we will continue to work with our community partners to sustain our core missions and provide our nation with the cost-effective military readiness it needs.”
Furloughs for about 11,000 Hill AFB civilian employees are a direct impact of sequestration, a cost-cutting measure imposed because of budget cuts across the Department of Defense.
They started July 8 and were set to run through Sept. 21, just prior to the start of the new federal fiscal year Oct. 1. It means a 20 percent reduction in pay for those employees, with an impact anticipated beyond that into the community.
For most employees, furloughs will occur on Fridays. However, the base commissary will remain closed on Mondays.