Nearly 400 jobs cut from Air Force financial center

Federal budget reductions will mean the loss of 389 civilian and military jobs at the Financial Services Center at Ellsworth Air Force Base, officials said Wednesday.

Beginning in April, the military pay facility began reducing its 550-person work force and will continue to do so through September 2012, until 161 workers remain.

Although the majority of the cuts will be gradual, 45 civilian contractors were notified this week that they will be out of a job at the end of September.

“Consistent with our reduction in funding across the Department of Defense and change in mission, we’re reducing the size of our contractor work force right now,” Lee Franklin, director of the center said Wednesday.

Those particular 45 workers may not receive the standard separation benefits from the federal government since they are contracted with a private agency, Franklin said.

A majority of the reduction comes from the military enlisted personnel who will be transferred back to individual bases, away from Ellsworth.

“We’re losing military pay processes and personnel over next couple months,” Franklin said. “The military pay processes will move back to the base level. All the military pay processes and military personnel will be gone.”

About half of the staff is enlisted members of the military, and the rest are civilians.

The remaining 161 jobs will all be filled by civilians, according to Franklin. Those workers will mainly be processing travel vouchers for bases worldwide.

The Financial Services Center is funded by the Defense Department and is technically a tenant of Ellsworth, although many enlisted members live on the base. The center opened in 2007 and grew to its peak of 550 workers this spring.

“It’s part of the process of getting smaller and keeping with DOD efficiencies,” Franklin said. “But it’s always hard to say so long to good people.”

Base commander Col. Mark Weatherington was unavailable for comment Wednesday.

Box Elder Mayor Al Dial said the cuts come in the midst of growing anticipation about the arrival of 280 civilian and military workers for a new MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicle unit next spring.

“I hate to see that, but they have to do what they have to do.” Dial said Wednesday about the cuts. “It sounded like they had some issues running all the finances through the one location.”

Dial said the area is used to the ebb and flow of staffing levels and will adjust accordingly.

“We’re kind of going to end up back at the status quo with workers,” Dial said. “But it could be worse: We could have seen a much bigger loss.”

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