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Home : News : Commentaries : Display
NEWS | June 11, 2014

Use it... or possibly lose it

By Col. Jeffrey DeVore 628 Air Base Wing commander

For the quarterly Commander's Commentary, I decided to take a turn from the norm and not write about leadership, but rather write about budget issues that we are facing across the Joint Base as we head into FY15. A few days back, my wife pulled up a FACEBOOK page which had several comments about Joint Base Charleston. The comments centered on diminishing quality of life programs. For example, there was a comment about how the Air Force was trying to close all quality of life services on the Naval Weapons Station. There was another about leadership trying to close the BX and NEX. There was even another one that said the leadership of the Joint Base was going to take away all the static displays across the installations. I can guarantee you, none of those are true nor have ever been discussed. But, your leadership team does need to make sure folks understand that some of the services with quality of life programs the installation has provided in the past may need to be reduced or discontinued in FY15.

The latest information coming from our headquarters is that we may take up to a 10% cut in our installation support budget for FY15. If that number holds true, we have no choice but to reduce services across the installation. Rather than wait to see what happens at the end of the FY, your leadership team has been discussing where we can reduce services and where we can gain efficiency. We want to be prepared and postured correctly so that if the cuts do take place, we have a plan in place and that you are all informed about. Of course, whenever you have these conversations, emotions are high and rumors fly.

While we are looking internal to the installations to see where we can possibly gain some ground, we are also looking externally to the community to see where we can partner or refer folks for similar type services. We are extremely lucky to live in an area which is supportive of the military. As we dialogue with community partners, all of them have expressed sincere gratitude that more military families might be coming to use their services. I want to stress the point that your leadership team is not looking to cut programs, it is quite the opposite, we are looking to sustain programs. Unfortunately, if the funding is not there and the service is not being used, then we have to come up with alternatives that will affect our quality of life programs.

I get asked a lot, what can we do to save certain services and keep them thriving. The simple answer is use them and use them often. Many of our installation activities are funded like a business and if the activity loses money, then we need to do something about that. An example would be the base pools. Our headquarters does not give us funding for base pools. To keep this service running we had to find a way to cover the operating cost of staff and maintenance. The solution was to charge a fee to patrons. Unfortunately, the cost of pool operations has become quite expensive and we had to raise the price of base pool passes this year. The alternative to not raising prices was to discontinue pool service. Based on your feedback, we did not want to do that. So although your pool pass fee increased this year, we were able to keep this service while still offering a highly competitive price which is only about 50-60% of what you would pay off the installation.

Make no mistake, FY15 is going to cause some budget and resource challenges for us. But, it doesn't mean we can't find creative ways to keep our quality of life programs and services alive. Your Joint Base Charleston leadership team is committed to socializing potential changes in service as soon as we possibly can for your planning purposes. If you want to keep the quality of life programs going...use them...or else we run the risk of losing them.