The loss of 3,350 soldiers from Fort Hood as the Army shrinks its active-duty end strength from 490,000 to 450,000 soldiers will not significantly affect Killeen and the surrounding area of central Texas, according to a study commissioned by the city.
“A 3,350-troop reduction, in my opinion, will not cause a significant impact on this region,” Rick Gibbs, the study’s author, told the Killeen Daily Herald.
“Where I would worry in my own experience in doing numbers is if you’ve got [a reduction of] 10,000 to 12,000 soldiers — a whole division,” he said.
Much of the economic impact will be offset by the region’s annual population growth, estimated at 1.5 percent. Gibbs said his primary concerns are the potential loss of federal impact aid by local school districts and a drop in passenger traffic at the Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport.
While the Copperas Cove Independent School District will be forced to deal with a reduction in impact aid for the 2016-2017 fiscal year, the Killeen Independent School District likely will not lose federal support. Killeen could lose $20 million in impact aid if the percent of military-connected students served by the district falls below 35 percent. But the district’s share of military-connected children is about 45 percent currently, a sufficient cushion to avoid losing federal aid, Gibbs said.
“The number we think it would need to be would be around 10,000 soldiers,” he said. “If you took out 10,000 soldiers, rough math, then you’d be at risk in my estimate of falling below that 35 percent.”
The study, which was funded by DOD’s Office of Economic Adjustment, is available on Killeen’s website.