- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Facility services at Naval Support Facility Dahlgren, Va., and NSF Indian Head are about to feel the effects of the government’s sequestration with reduced gym hours and a variety of reductions in operations, training and maintenance, a base spokesman said.
A 10 percent reduction in funding for base-operated support facilities is expected.
All Navy installations in the Washington, D.C., area will be affected by the cuts, spokesman Gary Wagner said.
Services include police and fire protection, safety programs, air operations, and quality-of-life programs and facilities.
“For us right now, we’re having to reduce some level of services, but we’re not in a position that we have to shut down services,” Wagner said.
Staff cuts are not anticipated at this time. Wagner added that the cuts taking place at this time are minimal. The bases have been told to look at furloughs starting in late April. However, Congress is working on budget proposals to alleviate such action from being necessary.
Property maintenance and custodial services also will be scaled back. The services are provided by Naval Facilities Engineering Command Washington, which serves as the public works department at both Dahlgren and Indian Head.
“The services that are expected to change are in the areas of custodial, grounds maintenance, pest control and street sweeping,” said Capt. Ken Branch, Naval District Washington regional engineer and commanding officer of Naval Facilities Engineering Command Washington, in a news release.
Custodial reductions will mean that restroom cleaning, desk-side trash pickup and floor care will be less frequent. Outside maintenance changes will include less-frequent grass mowing and less watering of the grass. The budget cuts will go so far as to allow some areas “to return to a ‘natural’ state,” Branch said.
According to the release, high-sanitation areas will still receive preventative treatment, but pest control will only be in response to customer complaints.
“Approximately $1.2 million in costs will be avoided in order to offset an equal amount of reduced funding for these services,” Branch said.
Operation hours for all Morale, Welfare and Recreation facilities and activities, the Fleet and Family Support Center child and youth programs, and on-base food service operations at both bases will be reduced.
Next week, employees at both bases will see cuts in MWR events and classes, and hours of operation for some facilities will be reduced, said fleet and family readiness program director Tom Kubalewski.
Fitness centers hours will be reduced from 91.5 hours per week to 86.5 hours per week, which amounts to about one hour fewer per day of operation. The Dahlgren library will be open 40 hours per week instead of 45.
As stated in the press release, the program hit the hardest will be the Liberty Program, which provides recreational activities for single military members who live on both bases.
“Our Liberty Centers are going from 91 hours to 50 hours a weekly, and the Navy won’t be able to subsidize costs to military members participating in special events or trips,” Kubalewski said.
A tighter budget means fewer featured events for base employees unless programs are completely sponsored by a commercial organization.