Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Nearly 140 civilians to lose jobs at Fort Carson

LANCE BENZEL Updated: January 13, 2010 at 12:00 am

Nearly 140 civilian workers at Fort Carson will lose their jobs this year, victims of government belt-tightening that will slash the post’s budget for lawn-mowing, snow removal and maintenance.

KIRA Inc., a maintenance contractor at Fort Carson, appears to have shouldered the brunt of those cuts.

The company will have to trim $4.6 million, or 15 percent, from its $31 million budget, the company said.

To meet that goal, 61 full-time workers will be laid off Thursday and Friday, said Contracts Manager Nick Hobbs. The company will eliminate 78 part-time positions for seasonal work lasting from April to September. The layoffs have already been announced to employees, he said.

KIRA employees are responsible for grounds-keeping and maintenance on most of the sprawling post.

It’s unclear whether other civilian jobs will be eliminated.

The Army asked Fort Carson to shave 20 percent from its operating expenses, scaling back last year’s $100 million budget to $80 million in 2010, the post said.

The budget crunch is part of an Army-wide reduction in non-war spending that will result in cuts ranging from 20 to 40 percent at posts across the the country, the Associated Press reported.

Fort Carson officials intend to cut contract services and instead rely on in-house labor — the soldiers — when it comes to grunt work like mowing lawns, cleaning buildings and hauling garbage to collection points.

The cost-saving move is a first step toward preserving funding for programs that keep soldiers healthy and combat-ready and help their families deal with the stress of repeated deployments, said Col. Robert McLaughlin, who as garrison commander oversees day-to-day operations at Fort Carson.

“We’re going to do what’s right for soldiers and families, and make things work,” he said today.

Other savings could come from shutting down vacant buildings while units are deployed, reducing spending on the post’s non-combat vehicle fleet and reducing hours of operation at an equipment handling facility.  Fort Carson could save $1 million a year alone by shutting down one of the post’s dining facilities, McLaughlin said.

call the writer at 636-0366

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