Budget Issues May Impact Army Depot Workers

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TOBYHANNA -- If there's no action in Washington, automatic budget cuts that go into effect next week could have a big impact here in our area.

Army documents obtained by Newswatch 16 show those cuts would include slashing hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for the Tobyhanna Army Depot, and the loss of many jobs there.

It is business as normal at Tobyhanna Army Depot for now, but documents in an army report obtained by Newswatch 16 show the place in Monroe County could be hit hard if lawmakers don't prevent automatic budget cuts set for March 1.

Tobyhanna employs 5,800 people, many of them civilians who do electronics maintenance and repairs for the army.  The army report says thousands of civilian jobs nationwide would be furloughed or lost and many maintenance operations cut back.

Pennsylvania would be one of the hardest hit states, and that includes Tobyhanna.

The report shows these figures for the Tobyhanna Army Depot:

  • $309 million funding reduction
  • 1,570 total jobs lost at two Pennsylvania army depots including Tobyhanna
  • 8,421 army civilian employees furloughed statewide, likely including some at Tobyhanna.

Most depot employees we talked with wouldn't comment on this but we did talk to one employee who said he won't worry until lawmakers are back from recess.  But we did talk to people at some businesses in the area and they are worried about this report.

"We'll be hurting because a lot of business comes from down at the army depot,” said Edgar Santana at Baby Bruno’s Pizza.

At the pizza place just down the road, army depot employees make up most of the customers.

Santana says cutbacks at the depot would hurt there.

"But if they do cut back, then Tobyhanna is in trouble, the little businesses, the gas station and the pizzeria and all that."

Two customers at another pizza place, Lombardi’s in Tobyhanna, both know people who work at the army depot. They know how many people depend on the place for jobs.

"My roommate works up there.  He works on computer chips, tanks and stuff.  I obviously hope he's not affected by the budget cuts and everything being that he's not actually part of the military,” said William O’Brien of Stroudsburg.

"There's a lot of people who their livelihood is dependent on that and we really hope that our neighbors in this area, they're not directly affected by it,” said Matt Pirolli of Mountain Top.

We tried to get more from the Department of Defense about this Army report, and what it means for Tobyhanna Army Depot, but haven't heard back.

Senator Bob Casey has a copy of the report and says this is another reason Rebublicans and Democrats must work together to avoid this.