Threat of spending cuts has Navy communities on edge

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by ZAHID ARAB / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on February 20, 2013 at 6:57 PM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 20 at 7:00 PM

BREMERTON, Wash. - Anxiety over sequestration - automatic spending cuts - and the anticipated loss of millions has area companies already making tough cutbacks. 

They blame political dysfunction in Washington and believe navy communities like Bremerton could be crushed.

Linda Corpe lost her job as a director of human resources. Every day, she faces uncertainty.

“Am I going to be able to pay my mortgage am I going to be able to feed everybody?” she said.

But she wasn’t the only one. At AMI International, a naval analysis firm, at least six others were also laid off.

“I’ve got to make sure the blood is still flowing to the heart, I can’t go under,” said Guy Stitt, company president.

After making tough decisions, Stitt fears more may be on the way.

“We have a Congress that seems derelict in their duty,” he said.

QED Systems, a engineering a tech support firm, has laid off a third of its staff. The Port Orchard company has reduced the hours of another third.

Federal contracts make up 20% of business for BCRA, a Tacoma design firm. It’s working on two $35 million dollar elementary schools on Joint Base Lewis McChord set to open in September. While funding for the projects are secure, the future isn’t.

A worst case scenario would be losing all Federal contracts.

“We would have to lay people off. We couldn’t move our entire federal group into other markets. We could move a lot of them, but not everybody,” said Rory Connally, company president.

Corpe fears others will end up in her position, 66 and in search of a new career.

“It’s tough to think about a bleak future. I don’t have enough savings to last forever,” she said.

Social Security may run out. For others in a comfortable job, she says, time may too.

If Congress doesn’t pass a budget by March 1, the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard will lose $90 million and all civilian employees will be furloughed 22 days.

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