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While construction booms at Fort Carson, other contractors make cuts

May 21, 2013 Updated: May 22, 2013 at 1:54 pm
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Brian Mills knew for two months that he could be laid off. His first notice came in late January, when his company handed out letters warning of possible job losses.

Even after all that time, he never thought it would happen.

"It is what it is," said Mills, while taking a break from an employment class at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers hall in Colorado Springs.

Mills, a two-year employee of KIRA LLC, was among about 125 people laid off in early April from the Fort Carson maintenance contractor because of automatic budget cuts known as sequestration.

The layoffs are one of the most tangible effects of the cuts that took effect March 1 - carving $41 billion from the Defense Department's fiscal year 2013 budget. The federal fiscal year ends Sept. 30.

At Fort Carson, those cuts meant $30.2 million less for the post's maintenance budget. As a result, the post cut $6 million from its contract with KIRA, said Hal Alguire, the post's director of public works.

The cut amounted to a quarter of the post's contract with KIRA.

The ensuing layoffs have left Mills frustrated with Congress. Lawmakers passed the cuts as a way to spur a grand federal budget deficit deal - reasoning that the reductions would be so unpalatable that Congress would need to pass an alternative.

"It doesn't seem like the government really cares," Mills said. "It's like they couldn't care less. They get a paycheck every day."

He has been taking employment classes since the April 4 layoff.

Meanwhile, his family has been relying on income from his wife and from his part-time job with Widefield's Parks and Recreation Department.

"We don't have a lifestyle that we used to have," Mills said. "Not that we lived a high-end lifestyle. Groceries, we cut back on that. We don't do anything at all.

"The job market's tough."

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This story has been changed to state the Brian Mills' correct tenure at KIRA LLC.

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Contact Jakob Rodgers: 476-1654

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