On Thursday, April 13, Congressman Steny Hoyer held a meeting at the J.T. Daughtery Center in Lexington Park to raise awareness of planned cuts to the workforce at Patuxent River and other bases in Southern Maryland.
During the recent BRAC (Base Realignment and Closures) there was talk of moving the base in St. Inigoes to Norfolk, Virginia. However St. Mary’s County, in the end, actually profited and gained personnel due to last year’s BRAC. Many breathed a sigh of relief – but, it would seem, a premature one.
While the Patuxent River military base employees and administrators may have thought they escaped any cuts or realignment during the latest BRAC in November, Hoyer made it clear at the meeting that “BRAC goes on every day at the Pentagon.”
The new cuts are set to be large ones – a 20 percent decrease in the workforce has been ordered by Secretary of the Navy for Patuxent River, St. Inigoes, and Indian Head.
That’s a huge reduction – and it’s a cut that will be a reduction in workforce rather than machinery.
It will likely mean a loss of 3,000 to 4,000 jobs for Southern Maryland. One insider said that contractors may have to reduce upto 25 percent of their workforce. Also, there’s the possibility that those who retain their jobs will be obliged to accept pay-cuts.
Up until Thursday discussions of the planned reduction had remained at a fairly high level (Mikulski spoke about it about six weeks ago at a lesspublic forum). Now Steny Hoyer, who has done a great deal to support the Southern Maryland area, is rallying contractors and base employees to draw up white papers and submit them to local representatives. “You need to go back and say you have these programs and you need people to do the work,” said Steny on Wednesday.
While Hoyer has always shown a commitment to the area, an inside source said that in reality there is nothing he can do in this case. “When it comes from the Secretary of the Navy the only way you could change it would be a vote in Congress,” said the source.
The trickle-down effect is unknown at this point, but the impact of these cuts will affect the entire community. Such a decrease in workforce might cause an influx of houses onto the market and a drop in property values and, as one attendee pointed out.