Survey aims to measure impact of Army staffing cuts on Oahu

Survey aims to measure impact of Army staffing cuts on Oahu

WAHIAWA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The U.S. Army has finished the bulk of its cuts at two Oahu installations as part of the federal government's cost-saving plan.

Now, businesses that rely on the military are worried about the long-term impacts of losing nearly 1,450 troops from Schofield Barracks and Fort Shafter.

"A lot of them are our customers so when they're cut down, it's going to cut our business down at the same time, too," said Bayo Adeniji, who owns 808GUIDONS, a Wahiawa store that sells plaques, frames and memorabilia.

Over the last two years, he said, sales have dropped by 50 percent.

Meanwhile, other stores in Wahiawa are hoping the cutbacks won't hurt too much.

"We have a variety of people coming in from different areas so I don't think it will make much of an impact," Tori Sato, an employee at Niu, a women's clothing boutique.

"But just along here, a lot of customers are military based, so we might see something," she said.

As part of the reduction, Schofield Barracks lost more than 1,200 soldiers.

The military also thinned the ranks at Fort Shafter by roughly 230 troops.

The Army says the reduction was achieved through soldiers retiring, being reassigned, or choosing not to re-enlist.

The city has hired a contractor to help measure the impacts of the reduction. Among other tools, the contractor is using an online survey to help gauge residents' opinions. (You can find the survey here.)

"The direct population, which is the troops and their dependents -- whether spouse or child or both -- those have the most effect on retail sales, enrollment in schools and child care," said economist Jeffrey Donohoe.

For example, as many as 300 to 700 military children could be departing public schools in Central Oahu because of the reduction. Losing students means less money for the campuses they leave behind -- about $4,000 per pupil under the Department of Education's weighted student formula.

"A reduction is not necessarily a bad thing," said DOE assistant superintendent Dann Carlson. "I'm not saying it's a good thing, but a lot of our campuses that this may have an impact on are some of our overpopulated and campuses that are near their capacity."

The assessment is expected to be completed by February. The city will use the results to come up with ways to try to ease any negative impacts.

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