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Marine staff furloughs to strip millions from the local economy

ALBANY, Ga. — Furloughs that went into effect this week aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany will ultimately cost Albany and the region millions in lost revenues through a drop in spending, base officials say.

Base officials confirmed Wednesday that the 11-week furlough will have a tangible impact outside the gates of MCLB-Albany and will likely strip millions of dollars in revenues from local businesses and governments.

By the numbers

$179 million: Total amount of annual salaries of personnel at MCLB-Albany

$3.4 million: Total amount spent on salaries per week.

$690,000: Total amount of the lost salaries of MCLB staff each week

Initially, base officials said that the furlough program, which will cut one day per week for the next 11 weeks from the pay of non-uniformed personnel on base, would impact about 2,000 people at the installation.

Wednesday, base officials said that the 2,000 number didn’t include staff members on base who were members of the base’s 40 or so tenant commands. In all, nearly 3,000 people will feel the sting of the furlough program.

“Our hearts go out to those 3,000 people taking a 20 percent cut in pay,” Col. Don Davis, commanding officer, MCLB-Albany, said. “Unfortunately, our civilian-Marines will feel the direct impact of this furlough, with a likely trickle-down effect to the community at large. Bottom line is that it’s really going to hurt and the moment we all hoped and prayed would not come is here.”

That “trickle-down effect” Davis speaks of means that, over the 11-week period, an estimated $7.6 million in revenues typically spent by base employees will not make it into the local economy, hindering a region that is still struggling.

The furloughs are part of automatic spending cuts by the federal government known as the sequester, which hit federal government departments, including the Defense Department, earlier this year. The furloughs impact nearly a million people with the non-uniform Defense Department

“The local community has always supported our base and the next 11 weeks will really challenge us to find creative ways to help these employees remain afloat,” Davis added. “I thank the community in advance for their kindness and compassion for those who are affected most by this unfortunate event.”

That compassion has already hit the streets the metro Albany area where a motorcycle rally and ride in honor of the 800,000 defense department employees being furloughed across the country is being planned.

Nikk Nicholson, a representative of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), says that riders and supporters are being asked to show their support for the furloughed workers through a commemorative ride through Southwest Georgia that will start at the Lee County Courthouse at 9 a.m. Saturday and pass through downtown Albany, Sylvester and Ty Ty, and end in Tifton.

“We are requesting all motorcycle clubs and enthusiasts in the local area come together to support and raise awareness of the government furlough. Many motorcycle clubs in the local area are comprised of both active duty, reserve, retired or active government employees that should have a great interest and be more than willing to participate in this ride,” Nicholson stated.