Local leaders are responding to the recent furloughs and reduction in hours of 2,500 employees at the Savannah River Site and are rallying around those who have been impacted as a result of sequestration.
J. David Jameson, president and CEO of the Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce, is looking for input from residents and business owners to help organize an effective case to present to the Congressional delegation and the Department of Energy next week.
A group of 40 local business, government, education and civic leaders are heading to Washington, D.C., on Tuesday to discuss important issues in the CSRA. SRS is one of the topics the group is planning to tackle.
Jameson wants to let leaders in Washington know that furloughs at SRS are negatively impacting the local economy.
“I need you to send me case-in-point examples to use – specific examples of how it is affecting your business,” Jameson said in an email. “I will use these as a composite overview and keep what you tell me about your business as proprietary.”
Jameson said that anyone who can help him in his efforts to build such a case should email him by Friday at noon. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Congressman Joe Wilson is holding a town hall meeting on Friday to address the furloughs from 10 to 11 a.m. at the USC Aiken Convocation Center located at 375 Robert M. Bell Parkway.
“From day one, I have been opposed to sequestration because I knew the disastrous effects it would have on our economy and our national security,” Wilson said in a press release. “The recent budget shortfalls that are forcing furloughs at the Savannah River Site are a direct result of inaction by the president and his Office of Management and Budget.”
Sen. Tom Young weighed in on the issue through one of his legislative update newsletters, stating that this is a statewide problem because there are subcontractors who serve the Site from other parts of South Carolina.
“The short-term fix problem is for there to be reprogramming of funds at the federal level. This has to start with the Office of Management and Budget. If reprogramming of some money is done, those 2,500 employees get to return to full time work. After OMB allows the reprogramming, the request has to go before Congress for approval for which the Congressional delegation is waiting. My understanding is that the process is currently stonewalled in OMB for some reason. If the reprogramming does not occur before May 22, then 700 to 900 people will be laid off until the beginning of the next federal fiscal year. This will harm the economic vitality of Aiken County, the CSRA and the state of South Carolina,” he wrote in an email.
Young added that most local families cannot sustain a 20 percent reduction in pay for an extended period of time, especially after receiving little notice.
“As it stands right now with the furloughs, the affected workforce is losing collectively about $3 million per week,” Young said in his newsletter. “That loss of income ripples into the community at about 2.3 times. Eventually, if 700 to 900 are laid off and 1,600 to 1,800 remain on a 32 hour week, this will be an even greater financial loss.”