Anniston Army Depot predicts budget cuts in 2015
by Patrick McCreless
pmccreless@annistonstar.com
Feb 20, 2014 | 6571 views |  0 comments | 91 91 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Employees at the Anniston Army Depot work on a tank body. Photo by Stpehen Gross.
Employees at the Anniston Army Depot work on a tank body. Photo by Stpehen Gross.
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The Anniston Army Depot faces a potential 12 percent budget cut next year, meaning possible layoffs and fewer work hours, facility officials say.

In a Thursday email to The Star, Michael Burke, deputy to the commander at the depot, said the facility currently predicts a $573 million budget for its 2015 fiscal year. That’s compared to a $648 million 2014 budget.

"At this time, we are not sure if or how it will impact our employee numbers, but we do expect it to reduce the amount of overtime worked," Burke said.

The 2015 budget amounts to 2.5 million direct labor hours, fewer than the 3.1 million labor hours depot workers have slotted for this year.

Burke added that he had not received any information from the Department of Defense that more funding for the depot might be allocated in the coming months.

The depot is no stranger to budget cuts and layoffs. The facility has laid off hundreds of employees in recent years due to the end of the Iraq War and the drawdown of the war in Afghanistan. Most recently, the depot laid off 371 temporary employees in March. However, the depot announced several months later that those positions will be refilled.

Shrene Funderburg, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, Local 1945, which represents depot workers, said she and her organization are concerned about the potential drop in funding. Funderburg said the depot needs around 3.2 million labor hours next year to maintain its current workforce.

"If that funding stays where it is now, we'll have to remove some permanent employees," Funderburg said. "The fact that the money is not on the books now scares us."

In a Thursday email to The Star, Jonathan Graffeo, spokesman for U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, said it was too early to discuss funding for the depot. Shelby is vice chairman of the Defense Appropriations Committee, which holds jurisdiction over all discretionary spending.

"The president has not yet released his budget for fiscal year 2015 - until the president does so, speculation about particular cuts is just that," Graffeo said. "Once the president does release his budget, it will serve as a starting point."

During a brief visit to the depot Thursday afternoon, Shelby said that though he will fight for jobs at the depot, work for the facility is not entirely up to Congress. The depot visit was part of Shelby's tour of businesses around the state this week to show his continued support for jobs and economic development.

"We hope business for the depot will pick up, but a lot of that depends on what the Army wants," Shelby said. "But I'm working to maintain and sustain the role of the depot."

Nathan Hill, military liaison for the Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce, said he was aware of the depot's funding projections, but did not think they would result in layoffs of permanent employees.

"But they might lose some temporary employees and cut overtime," Hill said. "But I think the funding situation can be improved and will be."

Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.

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