Wisconsin News

Fort McCoy furloughs will have multimillion-dollar impact

FORT MCCOY, Wis. - More than 1,500 civilian employees at Fort McCoy are facing weekly furlough days this summer.

It's part of the $50 billion cut to the Department of Defense because of sequestration.

Not far from the fort, Fast Eddie's convenience store in Sparta has a lot of regulars. But lately, many of those regulars say they'll soon be visiting Fast Eddie's less regularly.

"They just let us know, 'Well, I won't see you this day. I won't see you that day,'" said Fast Eddie's owner Eddie Habhegger.

That's because of the 20 percent pay cut those civilian employees are taking, starting Monday and going through September -- one unpaid day off every week for 11 weeks.


"Overall, this is going to be a $3.7 million impact to the local economy," said Fort McCoy Public Affairs Officer Linda Fournier.

Fournier is one of the civilian employees facing furlough days.

"For myself, it's less money that I will be putting into retirement, simply because I'm further along in my career. But other people who have young families, they're certainly going to be making some tough decisions," said Fournier.

It's going to leave many of Fort McCoy's facilities understaffed. Some will be closed once a week.

"The commissary, they took a look, and what was best for their operation was just to completely shut down one day a week," said Fournier.

And since 73 percent of Fort McCoy's workforce lives in Monroe County, local businesses like Fast Eddie's are going to take a hit.

"It's hard for them. They're losing income. And also it's hard for us because we lose sales. Because we see them every shift," said Habhegger. "And we won't see them."

"This is just year one. If something is not done at the congressional level, sequestration technically is a 10-year program," said Fournier.

That's likely to mean a whole lot more furlough days.

Fournier said any military members or veterans who plan to visit the fort -- whether they want to get their ID updated or meet with the legal department -- should contact the agency they plan on visiting ahead of time. That way, they don't come to the fort only to find that department is closed for the day or too understaffed to help them.

Fort McCoy estimates it has a $1 billion economic impact on the region every year.

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