Many U.S. civilian employees living in Europe will see more money in their next paychecks, thanks to increases this week in their post allowance.

The rate for civilians working in military communities in Germany, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands rose from 50 to 60 on Sunday because of the continual decline of the dollar against the euro. The rates rose in dozens of countries, though there was no change for those in the United Kingdom and the rate fell by five points for those in Turkey.

Post allowance payments are based on location, salary and the number of dependents, so the numbers vary for individuals. Someone who earns $45,000 a year, supports three dependents and works at a U.S. base in Italy or Germany will see $103 more a paycheck because of the increase.

The increases might remain in place for months or be readjusted again in two weeks, depending on the exchange rate. Those living in Belgium, for instance, saw their rates drop from 50 to 42 on March 2, then climb back to 50 this week.

Joyce McNeil, a team supervisor for Europe and parts of Asia for the State Department’s Office of Allowances, said the rates changed because the dollar had declined enough against the euro. Rates are evaluated every two weeks, but don’t change unless they hit specific thresholds.

As for the dollar’s relationship with the British pound, McNeil said “the exchange rate didn’t change enough” to trigger a change.

Karl Braun, a civilian payroll officer at Aviano Air Base, Italy, monitors the index routinely and said Monday he was happily aware of the change.

The news wasn’t as good for Janet Morrison, a DOD employee who works at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey. The rate declined from 20 to 15 for those based at Incirlik. She said she didn’t think most people on base were aware of the news yet.

And not one she thinks is justified. She said the dollar’s relationship with the Turkish lira is fairly volatile, but she’s seen a trend over the last year regardless of what the rate is.

“I have noticed price changes," she said. “They’re going up outside the gates. They’re charging a lot more for food, clothing, almost anything else you want to buy.”

Morrison said she’d probably cut back on traveling and off-base purchases, “especially if the post-allowance rate is going down.”

Though those in the U.K. didn’t see a decline, many were expecting an increase.

“Considering how expensive it is to live here, I don’t understand why other bases on the continent are seeing raises when the British pound costs more than the euro,” said Vickie Lacey, a human resources specialist at RAF Mildenhall.

On Sunday, Lacey treated herself to dinner at Chili’s restaurant in Cambridge. The meal tallied up to more than 28 pounds, roughly $60, she said.

“If you go to a British shop you pay double and when you eat out you pay double,” she said.

To calculate your own post allowance, go to the State Department’s Web site at: content/documents/WebCola.xls.

Staff writer Sean Kimmons at RAF Mildenhall contributed to this report.

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Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for 40 years.

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