Fort Rucker community bracing for budget cuts

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The department of defense is looking at an almost 8 percent budget cut, causing concern with Fort Rucker in our backyard.

Since the automatic cuts kicked in Friday, it is now a waiting game for local officials.

Daleville Mayor Claudia Wigglesworth said, “The earthquake has happened and now the tsunami warnings are out. And we are waiting to see how big those waves are going to be when they hit the shore and our shore.”

The mayor and other officials hope Fort Rucker doesn’t face a wipe-out. But it’s still not clear where the post will fall among the $85 billion cuts.

“Here at Fort Rucker the impact is great with 500 less pilots being trained, 37,000 less flight hours. All of that translates into pilots, and maintenance, and contracts and bottom line it impacts jobs.”

For the Daleville economy that is centered around the army post, local businesses are waiting to see how this could affect their profit.

Kirsten Negard, whose family owns Ingrid’s Jewelers and The Castle Plaza said, “The first thing that goes when there is a reduction in pay is the fun stuff.”

And that’s what Kirsten Negard is worried about with her family business; a jewelry store and café that has been in the community for 32 years. But Negard says a strong reputation isn’t going to be enough to avoid this mess.

“With the cuts in the flight hours and the cuts in the student pilot training program and as well as civilian pay getting cut 20 percent, we are going to feel a deep cut in our own pocket,” she said.

Potential cuts in Fort Rucker personnel could also mean fewer people looking for a place to live. That’s where real estate agents could take a hit.

Jody Britton, owner of the Daleville Inn and Britton Homes LLC said, “Probably 90 percent of our clientele are associated with Fort Rucker in some capacity.”

Right now people in Daleville and on Fort Rucker have to wait for the damage to hit.
But they’re more than ready to send their thoughts to Washington.

“We’re all military we have all given up for this country, we gladly do. We need to be able to see an end in sight and a plan. This is not a plan this is just a band aid right now.”

There are people all across the country who feel just like Jody, Kirsten, and Claudia. While they’re going to be affected differently because of the cuts, they’re all hoping for the same thing; a better solution.

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