NEWS | March 15, 2017

Commander’s call questions and answers

By 628th Air Base Wing 628th Air Base Wing

The following are the questions raised during the 628th Air Base Wing Commander’s Call February 3, 2017 here with the subsequent answers provided:

 

Is there any new guidance regarding High Year Tenure for Non-Commissioned Officers who want to remain in the Air Force?

 

Answer:  There is no new guidance or changes in regard to HYT; however, the Air Force is expected to grow in FY17 to 321,000 and to 324,000 in the following years.

Will dorm residents who are living off base or “ghosting” still receive BAS Type II?

Answer:  IAW AFI 32-6005, the Commander or First Sergeant can approve requests for members to reside off-base without entitlements prior to entering any rental agreement but members are not allowed to retain a room in unaccompanied housing once moving off –base.

 

Last year a portable building was available for individuals to have their taxes done.  Will this service be offered again this year?

 

Answer:  Last year, like this year, the Joint Base Legal Office offers tax assistance at various locations, to include the NWS and Air Base Legal Offices, and the Air Base Airman & Family Readiness Center.  Though we have not used portable sites in the past, some commercial providers (HR Block) may have done so and many commercial providers offer low or no-cost tax assistance to military members (with various conditions you will need to ask them about).  Contact the Legal Office at 843-963-5502 for more information about tax assistance. 

 

What is the deployment tax filing website?

 

Answer:  www.irs.gov/combatzone

 

Will tax preparation be offered at the Weapons Station?

 

Answer: Yes.  See earlier answer and contact the Legal Office at 843-963-5502 for guidance on the scope of tax assistance this year, appointments when necessary, and guidance on expediting your return using free online tax filing software available at Military OneSource and the Internal Revenue Service.

Can dormitory residents request an advance on their pay to cover food costs between 1 – 15March?

Answer:  According to the DoD Financial Management Regulation 7000.14-R, Vol. 7A, Chapter 32, enlisted members may be paid an advance of Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS) (not exceed 3 months) if the member is entitled to BAS and the Commanding Officer (CO) authorizes the payment following a determination it is necessary. 

If it is determined that a member will experience financial hardship as a result of the dining facility being closed, the unit commander should provide the Comptroller Squadron with a memorandum for record authorizing the advance along with the amount requested.

If Airmen have kitchens and adequate storage in the dormitories, can they receive BAS Type II?

Answer:   Joint Base Charleston leadership has determines that all dorms on the air base side do not have adequate food preparation and storage capabilities. Therefore, all residents are entitled to BAS II.

Why is BAS Type II double the standard BAS rate?  What is the justification for a family to receive more than half of what a single Airmen receives?

Answer:  The regulation does not specifically state why BAS II is exactly double the standard enlisted BAS rate.  However, it can be inferred the reason is due to the fact that, in addition to government mess being unavailable, the dormitories do not contain adequate food storage or preparation facilities, resulting in a higher likelihood residents will have to eat at higher-priced off-base locations. 

BAS is an entitlement of the military member only and not related to a member’s dependents or marital status.  Individuals living in privatized housing or off-base housing are expected to have adequate food preparation and storage capabilities, unlike members living in the air base dormitories.

Is it true that the single pay system, (BAS/BAH), will be combined and taxed at an appropriate rate?

Answer:  At this time, CPTS has not received any official information or guidance addressing the combination and taxation of BAS and BAH.

Are there plans to have a refill pharmacy?

Answer: The 628th Medical Group is currently exploring the possibility of a Satellite Pharmacy.  Current projections are the Satellite Pharmacy would process 8K-9K prescriptions per month accommodating refills, off-base scripts (hardcopy or e-order) and Medical Group (MDG) closures on Wing Training Days.  This initiative would allow the Main Pharmacy in the Medical Group to expedite filling in-house prescriptions as well as service hardcopy/e-prescriptions upon patients’ requests.  This new initiative would require additional funding and staff.  The 628th Medical Group has submitted this as a new requirement for FY19.

 

Are there any plans to obtain Wi-Fi in the gym?


Answer: Yes, some plans are in the final stages. The Wi-Fi will be available in the cardio room, weight room and selected rooms in the Air Base Fitness Center.

 

For Sam's gym, the Wi-Fi will be available in the weight room, cardio room and a portion of the portion of the basketball court.

 

We are still in the developmental stage for Eastside Wellness Wi-Fi installation. We are working with the contractor to ensure Wi-Fi can be installed there. If so, it will reach all customer areas of the facility.

 

Is there an update on the civilian hiring freeze?

 

Answer: The President ordered a "hiring freeze" on 23 Jan 17 that applies to all DoD personnel, with the exception of military members (regardless of funding source).

 

Some positions may qualify for a waiver from the hiring freeze. If a position is covered by one of the exemption sections, the selecting official may submit a fully justified  exemption waiver.. All units have been notified and are currently working on exemption memorandums for positions that were in progress. The hiring freeze is in effect until further notice.

 

The guidance has been updated frequently, please refer to the below links for further information:

 

https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/01/23/presidential-memorandum-regarding-hiring-freeze

 

https://www.chcoc.gov/content/federal-civilian-hiring-freeze-guidance

 

How do military officers track and ensure they receive joint credit?

 

Answer: Members can track their joint assignments in their duty history, assignments, evaluations/LOEs, awards and decorations. Officers traditionally receive joint credit when assigned to a position listed on the JDAL (Joint Duty Assignment List). These assignments/deployments will be visible in the member's records/SURF.

 

Members who self-nominate and are applying for joint credit through the experience-based method must first be approved by the Joint Experience Review Panel.  If the member is approved by the panel, he/she may review their experience-based credit on the JQS Self Nomination website.  Please talk to FSS and your chain of command for details on how to successfully apply.

 

Any updates on reopening Liberty Hall Road gate with the amount of construction in the area?

 

Answer:  The gate is open from 0600-0730 M-Thurs, 1630-1800 M-Thurs. It is closed on Fridays and weekends. SFS does not have manpower to keep the gate opened 24/7.

Are there security procedures to control texting and driving on base?

 

Answer:  According to the AFI 31-218 IP JB CHARLESTONSUP dated 26 Jan 17, only hands free cell phone use is allowed while driving on base. Signs are posted around the base to inform the populace. Texting while driving is punishable by 18 days of driving suspension for the first offense, 90 days for the second, and 1 year for the third offense.  Security Forces members are on the lookout for violators.

 

When Food 2.0 is approved, approximately how much longer will the  Dining Facility (DFAC) be closed?

 

Answer:  We are unable to provide this information as we are waiting on the signing of the contract (from the Higher Headquarters level). The contract will include the types of renovation needed which will dictate the length of time it will take for renovations. Once the contract is awarded, we’ll know more about the timeline and whether it will extend the current closure plans of the Dining Facility.  Current planning would not extend the planned closure.

 

Under the Blended Retirement System (BRS), what percentage of the lump sum is taxed?

 

Answer:  A lump sum payment under the BRS will be taxed at the recipient’s taxable income rate. If the member chooses a lump sum payment, the entire lump sum will be taxed, BUT receipt of the lump sum may put the recipient into a higher tax bracket. Therefore, the recipient can opt to take the lump sum in installments. Doing so could lower the recipient’s taxable obligation.

 

For example: A member who typically falls into a 15% tax bracket could end up in a 33, 35, or even a 39.6% tax bracket should they choose to take the entire 25% or 50% lump sum payment in one tax year.

 

Are riding sharing (i.e. Uber/Lyft) services authorized to enter the base?

 

Answer:  Yes, if properly vetted through the Visitor Control Center. They must submit a request to SFS and pass the background vetting.

 

What is the process to get contractors on base for housing services such as dog walking/cleaning services/caregivers?

 

Answer:  Contractors providing these services must be physically sponsored in and will not be issued a permanent pass to enter.

 

Are there any monetary options for individuals who opt out of the legacy entitlements system?

 

Answer:  Individuals who opt-out of the Legacy Retirement System (or opt-in to the BRS) receive an automatic TSP contribution in an amount equal to 1% of their monthly base pay. They can also receive up to 4% in matching funds as long as they contribute 5% of their own monthly base pay.

 

Another example: If they contribute 1% they get 1% matching, 2% gets 2% matching, 3% gets 3% matching, 4% gets 3 ½ % matching and 5% gets 4% in matching contributions.

 

Under the Blended Retirement System, will it be non-optional for new recruits when they enter the military?

 

Answer:  All new recruits (accessions) who join the military on or after 1 January 2018 do not have an option to choose between the Legacy Retirement System and the BRS. The BRS will be the “new” retirement system for all military members effective 1 January 2018.

 

When individuals contribute to the Blended Retirement System, does the 4% matching include the 1% automatic contribution or does it raise the total contribution to 5%?

 

Answer:  The automatic 1% contribution is not part of the 4% matching contribution; therefore, a member who opts into the BRS will receive automatic 1% whether they choose to contribute their own money or not contribute their own money into their TSP account.

 

Should the member choose to contribute some of their own money, the government will match up to 4% of the member’s own monthly contribution.

 

For example: If a member contributes 1% they get 1% matching, 2% gets 2% matching, 3% gets 3% matching, 4% gets 3 ½ % matching and 5% gets 4% in matching contributions. The member could end up with an additional contribution of 5% of their monthly base pay.

 

Will BRS start fresh in 2018, or will it contribute based on past years of service?

 

Answer:  If a member is opt-in eligible and chooses the Blended Retirement System (BRS), contributions into the TSP will NOT be retroactive to the date the member entered the service; however, the member will not have to wait for the required two year time period new accessions must meet before receiving matching funds. Therefore, the opt-in eligible member who elects the BRS can begin taking advantage of matching contributions right away.  Please talk to a financial counselor at the Military Family Support Centers on the specifics for your income and financial situation.