A handful of Army installations have outlined planned reductions in family and morale, welfare and recreation (MWR) programs as the service expects to cope with a $105 million cut in fiscal 2017 funding for such activities.
On Aug. 31, Lt. Gen. Kenneth Dahl, commander of Installation Management Command, announced the Army would be absorbing a 23 percent cut in its budget for family and recreation programs, with the funding shifted to higher priorities that support readiness.
Fort Carson, Colo., for example, “will continue to rely significantly on borrowed military manpower from the 4th Infantry Division to sustain hours of operation and reduced pricing in our fitness centers and aquatics programs,” according to a spokeswoman.
The reduction in overhead costs for MWR support services has resulted in a substantially smaller workforce at the post, reported the Military Times. A small number of programs experiencing low demand have been reduced. Some program fees will increase by $1 or less in the new fiscal year.
At Fort Sill, Okla., which is trying to mitigate a 25 percent budget cut, the library’s hours are being reduced. In addition, fees will be implemented for services such as pools, outdoor recreation areas and special events and programs.
To accommodate a $500,000 cut in MWR funds at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., some services will be scaled back. The sportsman’s center will no longer sell ammunition or rent weapons, for instance; the skeet and trap ranges will be open for customers who bring their own weapons and ammunition.
Officials at Fort Drum, N.Y., however, say the funding cuts will have only a “mild impact” on operations as they have been preparing for possible changes in recent years, according to the story.
“That is only possible because we saw the writing on the wall with regard to [family and MWR] funding early after sequestration hit,” said spokeswoman Julie Halpin. The post has been investing in services that are partially funded by taxpayer dollars and services that receive no taxpayer funding to help them become self-sustaining.
“Those programs that weren’t hitting those marks were either revamped, like our bowling center last year, or discontinued, like arts and crafts in fiscal 2012,” Halpin said.