Naples base being asked to pick up where budget leaves off
Stars and Stripes
NAPLES, Italy — Talk about a budget mess.
Members of the community here might soon have to take out their own trash, and some public restrooms on base could be closed to the public.
Capt. Scott Gray, commanding officer of Naval Support Activity Naples, told about 20 servicemembers and dependents who attended a town hall Wednesday night that the community’s training, emergency management, command support, lodging and facilities management could be affected by lower funding levels for fiscal 2013, which started Oct. 1. Gray said the base will receive less money this year compared with previous years regardless of whether sequestration cuts take effect in January.
A spokesman for Gray said he could not release any budget numbers.
The reductions reflect military-wide budget cuts as the federal government looks to reduce its $1 trillion deficit.
In Naples, parents have been asked to help cover the budget gap. Winter sport fees for youth went up from $30 last year to $45 this year.
The strained budget could soon require office workers to take out their own trash as janitorial services are reduced, Gray said.
Some employees have been shuffled into new jobs as departments are tightened, leaving fewer job openings for dependents unable to find employment off the base. And unexpected expenses, such as plumbing problems caused by teenage vandals who throw mud and rocks into public toilets, could mean fewer basic amenities, Gray said.
Gray said the community faces “a fairly bleak picture” that would only get worse if the mandatory sequestration cuts are phrased in starting in January. The Pentagon faces $500 billion in automatic reductions over 10 years under the budget-shrinking solution passed by Congress in 2011 after a bipartisan committee failed to come up with an alternative plan to lower the national deficit.
“Unfortunately, it’s not going to get better for us over the next couple of years,” Gray said.