|Ellsworth Air Force Base takes steps to cut back on number of civilian employees|
|Friday, 25 January 2013 16:03|
It's not certain what the precise economic impact will be of a directive put out by the Air Force to institute a hiring freeze at the nation's Air Force Bases. Ellsworth Air Force is included in the directive. The Air Force says the hiring freeze among civilian workers at U.S. Air Force bases is necessary to deal with the uncertainty created by the fiscal cliff budget negotiations in Congress. The Rapid City Chamber's Pat McElgunn, a member of the Ellsworth Task Force, says it's too early to tell whether the effect on the Black Hills economy will be bad or good.
Pat McElgunn says, "Worst case scenario: you could see a significant reduction of spending in the community in terms of civilian personnel salaries, contracting, military construction projects and other kinds of services that are normally required by the base."
Ellsworth Air Force Base has a payroll amounting to $40 million per year for its civilian employees. Any reduction of that $40 million payroll will be felt in the shops and shopping malls of all the towns in the Black Hills, but particularly Rapid City. The question is, how much. Air Force officials prefer to downplay the negative effects as much as possible when it comes to the number of people affected.
Michael Petrocco says, "I don't have the exact numbers, but about a handful of people would be impacted."
What no one is able to predict at this point is, how long the situation will last. Congress is scheduled to deal with the spending side of the fiscal cliff about a month and a half from now.
Al Van Zee