MacDill Air Force Base is feeling the effects of the federal government shutdown. Fifteen-hundred civilian employees are on furlough indefinitely.
Sixth Air Mobility Wing Commander Col. Scott DeThomas says the furloughs will have a significant impact.
"The final decision to furlough is no indication of value these great individuals, civilian airmen, bring, but reflects the very limited scope of authority we have to continue our operations," DeThomas said.
The furloughed civilian employees serve various functions across the board. Their areas are considered "non-essential" activities, for example family support, youth activities, and the non-emergency clinic.
"Starting yesterday, we're losing just under $400,000 of wages everyday. And that's a pretty incredible number on the backs of our civilian airmen," said DeThomas.
The furloughs at MacDill are certain have a ripple effect. The owner of Interbay Meat Market in south Tampa says he's already feeling it.
"There's a lot of faces that we see on a regular basis that we have not seen the last couple of days," said Hani Shoubaki, who has been in business nearly 30 years.
His lunch crowd is shrinking, as many of the deli's regulars are losing their paychecks. Shoubaki estimates that Interbay Meat Market has already seen a 25 percent decrease in business.
"If it continues like this, obviously we have to adapt," he said. "The payroll will have to go down. We have to layoff some people. Hopefully, that won't happen."
Two-thousand civilian employees at MacDill were forced to take six furlough days earlier this year, due to federal sequestration.
"These civilians have been going through this since one March. Think about that. Think about the impact of not knowing exactly how many days of furlough, how much pay you may or may not lose," said DeThomas. "They've been through some incredible stress already."
DeThomas says curtailed services are not affecting MacDill's military missions.
Military personnel are still being paid, however their commissaries are closed on bases nationwide. That will mean higher food prices for military families. Groceries in the commissary cost about 30 percent less than off base.
DeThomas says several local banks have agreed to give loans to some of civilian employees who are not receiving pay checks.
He adds that more furloughs are possible. MacDill's leader will review the situation weekly for as long as the government shutdown continues.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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