Businesses on edge as Army studies cuts at Schofield and Fort Shafter
WAHIAWA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The U.S. Army has released a study on the environmental and socio-economic impacts if big cuts were made to Schofield Barracks and Fort Shafter. It's part of an effort to cut 70,000 positions due to budget cuts.
Businesses are on edge because of it.
"We would lose a lot," said Dave Quinn of The Tat Cave, across the highway from Schofield and where 95 percent of its customers are military. "We would probably have to find other jobs, go to other shops, to pick up business and clientele."
It also would affect the tax office that also offers military loans.
"With all the troops that have been deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan it's been pretty touch on some of the businesses here already," said Ron Gatlin at the Liberty Tax Service office in Wahiawa. "So this could be a permanent toughness."
Under the most severe scenario, Schofield would lose about 16,000 employees, leaving 2,441 on base. In town, Fort Shafter's population would be cut by more than half from 7.431 to 3,631.
However, the Army isn't proposing to actually make the cuts.
"That's just to provide the Army decision-makers with the flexibility, so if they want to cut 10,000 from seven different installations, they'll know what the environmental and socio-economic impact of that kind of decision will be," said Cathy Kropp, a spokeswoman with the U.S. Army Environmental Command at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas.
The study said the environmental impact would be minimal. But the socio-economic part would hurt. If you include military family members, the cuts would send away about 50,000 people, or about five percent of Oahu's population. The cuts would allow cost another 6,000 civilian jobs that are dependent on the military.
The Army also estimates a loss of more than $1 billion in sales per year, along with a $9 million loss in tax revenues.
"I don't think it's gonna happen," said Quinn. "And I pray that I don't happen."
The Army did say any cuts would come after many more studies and more chances for public comment.
The Army is currently inviting public comment until August 25.
The Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Assessment and draft Finding of No Significant Impact can be found by clicking HERE. They also are available at the Hawaii State Library, Mililani Public Library, Kalihi-Palama Public Library, Salt Lake-Moanalua Public Library and Wahiawa Public Library.
Written comments may be submitted to: U.S. Army Environmental Command, ATTN: SPEA Public Comments, 2450 Connell Road (Building 2264), Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, TX 78234-7664, or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
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