20% cut may come to 2 WMass military facilities

WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) — With two major military facilities in western Massachusetts, hundreds of workers will be directly affected by across-the-board-funding cuts.

The Department of Defense is looking at a 20% reduction in its budget, which means the two bases here would have their budgets cut. That will have a direct impact on people working there.

If across-the-board funding cuts take effect on Friday, one thousand people in western Massachusetts may take home smaller paychecks.

At Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield, 250 civilian workers may be furloughed. Meaning, they'll work only 4 days a week.

At Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee, the same cut could apply to 759 workers.

Major Matthew Mutti, Executive Officer at 104th Fighter Wing in Westfield, told 22News “There's a bottom line paycheck impact, but there's also an impact to our ability to do our mission. We rely on these folks to help maintain our aircraft and to perform training, and if they are not here, we are going to have to adjust the way we do our business.”

Wing Commander of 439th Airlift Wing in Chicopee Steven Vautrain said “We won't have the ground crews, the medical crews, the support crews, the air crews all trained up to full speed, then we don't meet our full readiness capability. So when we are called on to go do something, we won't have as many crews as we usually would.”

Barnes Municipal Airport in Westfield will also be affected. They may lose their air traffic control tower.

Barnes Municipal Airport handles 65,000 take-offs and landings each year. If they were to lose their air traffic control tower, they would lose a valuable asset that keeps all those aircrafts, including military aircrafts, safe.

Brian Barnes, Manager of Barnes Municipal Airport, told 22News “They are professional safety experts in aviation, and you have them looking out for everything that's going on and directing traffic. They are a great safety net. They also contribute in a lot of other ways to the community, so to lose them would be an impact to the airport.”

If bases’ civilian employees do get furloughed, they’ll have reduced weeks for the next 20 weeks.

Copyright 2014 WWLP TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

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