Budget shortfall delays barracks repairs in Europe
August 30, 2008
NAPLES, Italy — The Navy has suspended general repairs to sailors’ barracks in Europe for the next few weeks because of a public works budget shortfall.
The dwindling coffers means only "emergency" problems — those that put occupants at risk or could damage property — are being repaired, said Cmdr. Mike Teates, the public works officer in Naples.
"Right now, we’re only responding to emergency calls," he said.
The policy, which went into effect Aug 15, doesn’t sit well with some sailors who are living in the barracks in Naples.
A petty officer second class said he and his barracks mates live with toilets that don’t properly flush, burned-out light bulbs, and air conditioners that don’t work in the middle of summer. But those problems won’t be repaired before the start of the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.
"I don’t think the general public knows that the guys in the barracks are being treated as second-rate citizens," said the sailor, who asked that his name not be used for fear of retribution for speaking out against the command.
The shortage of public works dollars isn’t unique to Naples; it affects all the large Navy bases in Europe, region spokeswoman, Lt. Cmdr. Wendy Snyder said.
Compounding the issue in Naples is a disparity between single sailors at the Capodichino barracks and their peers at Gricignano Support Site.
At the support site, all problems get fixed. That’s because the Navy pays for an annual $350,000 maintenance contract because the property is leased from a landlord.
"So the SS barracks continues to receive full services," Teates wrote in an e-mail. "The funds for (Capodichino) come from (Navy Region Europe) to public works on a quarterly basis, and due to the shortfall, only emergency services are being provided."
In Naples, living quarters are split between the two bases, and there is a perception of unequal standards of living.
The support site houses the family and single-sailor housing, shopping venues, theater, bowling alley and schools. The Navy has a long-term maintenance contract with the landlord, Mirabella, to maintain and repair the facilities, Housing Director Sandy Randolph said.
"Family housing is run on a different approach and different method of execution, and that can create a perception of one being more important than the other," Teates said.