(KMOV.com) – The reality of looming staff cuts at Scott Air Force Base is drawing nearer as airmen whose jobs are on the line are notified.
Of the base’s 5,500 active-duty airmen, 2,160 of them are eligible for a voluntary or involuntary departure from the service. It’s unclear exactly how many positions will be cut at SAFB, but national-wide staffing reductions by the Air Force will be eight percent.
“If you average it out, some bases, may take a larger cut and some of course, smaller,” says Lieutenant Colonel Ross Callaway.
Since Scott Air Force Base is an engine that helps drive the Metro East economy, people are wondering how the cuts will impact the area.
“This affects where people live and how they’re going to put food on the table, and a lot of people don’t know,” says Chris Hughes, whose wife works at the base. “We’ve been told if you don’t get cut this year, you might get cut next year so don’t get comfortable, because the federal government is going to continue to cut people,” he adds.
Large enough cuts would be felt by school districts, businesses, and the housing market says Professor of Economics Frank Spreng at McKendree University.
“The bottom line is, you end up with a higher rate of unemployment in the community, or in the case of military personnel, perhaps a lot of them would move away because they were only here because of the military in the first place,” says Spreng.
Some of those who qualify for staff reductions at SAFB have until May to voluntarily leave. After that, Air Force officials say, the remaining staff will be evaluated based mainly on performance and could be cut. This round of staffing reductions will be completed by the end of 2014, said Lt. Col. Callaway.
The Air Force held a town hall meeting Monday evening organized to take questions from spouses of airmen who are eligible for departure, according to Air Force officials.
Meantime, the Air Force continues to recruit says, Lt. Col. Callaway, but it’s being more selective and cutting back. It’s still needed he says to keep up with normal staff turnover.