At Army base, eve of sequestration weighs heavy

Posted at 7:19 PM, Feb 28, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-28 19:19:16-05

(WTVR)--When the sequestration ax falls at Ft. Lee thousands of civilian workers could find themselves working less and earning fewer dollars.

When you make less in your paycheck, you’ve got to make some tough decisions at home.

Stephen Baker doesn’t wear fatigues, but he is training nonetheless. The public information officer at the sprawling U.S. Army base near Petersburg is bracing for sequestration.

“It is an issue that bears serious consideration for every employee,” says Baker. “Everyone is thinking about it because it impacts everybody.”

Baker and the 5,500 other civilian workers could be furloughed and have their paychecks slashed by 20 percent.

“I don’t think there are too many people who can take a 20 percent pay cut and just shrug it off,” says Baker.

Even though the mandatory federal spending cuts haven’t taken affect Baker, the father and husband, is being proactive.

“We’ve done away with pizza night. Pizza night is getting diminished and taking the kids to the movies. These are things that we’re doing less,” Baker says.

Financial advisor, Michele Oliver says belt tightening while painful can be done. Oliver says to save money avoid specialty coffee drinks, avoid dining out and always use coupons. Oliver recommends using grocery store gas perks as well as checking your insurance policy for outdated and expensive items. She says be smart with your money especially when there is a lot less in your account.

Back at Ft. Lee sequestration may cut Stephen Baker’s pay, but it cannot dampen his spirits.

“I think you have to be perpetually optimistic. Knowing that things are going to work out,” Baker says.

If and when sequestration goes into effect, Stephen Baker and the 5,000 plus civilian workers at Ft. Lee face 22 days of furlough without pay beginning in April through the end of the fiscal year.

Meanwhile on base, sequestration will be felt immediately beginning tomorrow. The operating hours of the shuttle bus on base will slashed.