HILL AIR FORCE BASE -- Bette Parkin says weekly trips to her favorite restaurant might have to end if the federal government implements furloughs for civilian employees of the Department of Defense later this year.
Parkin, a full-time DoD employee, is one of thousands of people at Hill Air Force Base who are looking at smaller paychecks come June.
As part of automatic budget cuts known as sequestration, the DoD has been directed to cut funding from its civilian payroll in the current fiscal year. In order to accomplish that, many civilian employees will be required to take unpaid leave time.
The DoD announced Thursday that the number of civilian furlough days had been reduced from 22 to 14. The furloughs are expected to begin sometime in mid-June -- instead of the beginning of April, as was originally planned -- and will run through the end of September.
Base spokesman Rich Essary said approximately 11,500 civilian employees on base could be subject to furloughs.
Although the furloughs won't be as long as what was initially anticipated, Parkin said, the impacts will still be felt.
The Clinton resident ate at Garcia's Restaurant in Layton on Friday afternoon, hoping her dining experience didn't represent a last hurrah of sorts.
"If they go through with these furloughs, this is something I won't be able to do anymore," she said. "But a lot of people out there are going to be facing a lot worse."
Parkin said she has spoken to several co-workers who will have to scramble to make car payments, mortgage payments and even buy groceries.
"A lot of people live paycheck to paycheck," she said. "That's just the way it is. Some people are barely getting by as it is, so when you cut any of their pay at all, something has to give."
Parkin's son, Jake, also works at Hill. He's also employed part time at O'Reilly Auto Parts and said several Hill co-workers have already inquired about part-time employment at the auto parts company.
"People are just wondering how they are going to make it, how they are going to make ends meet," he said.
Local economic officials say a negative ripple effect could occur if the thousands of Hill employees make major cutbacks to their discretionary spending, like the Parkins plan to do.
"(The furloughs) clearly have an impact, and the impact goes beyond just the salary of one person," said Jim Smith, president of the Davis Chamber of Commerce. "There is a trickle-down that occurs."
Smith said he has seen studies that show $1 of an average individual's salary equals about $8 to the surrounding local economy.
"With so many people around here employed by Hill, you can see how these furloughs could impact the economy," he said. "There will be less money going into the system."
Smith said he was encouraged by the news that the number of furlough days had been reduced and hopes, before June rolls around, Congress will have found an alternative to employees taking unpaid leave.
Dave Hardman, president of the Ogden-Weber Chamber of Commerce, predicts similar fallout if the furloughs are implemented.
"Over time, there could be a reduced need for the parts that many of our local businesses provide for the Air Force," he said. "And with the thriving aerospace industry we have here in Northern Utah, that's a big deal."
At least one local financial institution is helping local DoD employees brace for the furloughs.
Zions Bank announced earlier this week it will offer a Furlough Assistance Program to help minimize the financial impact of the sequestration.
The program allows Zions Bank to modify existing loan and credit card terms for current clients, and to expedite the credit-approval process for both new and existing clients, said Brian Garrett, a senior vice president who oversees Zions Bank's Military Relations program.
Garrett said employees facing furloughs are encouraged to visit their local Zions Bank Financial Center for more information.
Parkin said she's glad to hear local businesses are trying to lend a helping hand but thinks, ultimately, it won't make much difference.
"At this point, there's only one acceptable solution," she said. "And that's for our politicians in Washington to come together and find a way to fix this thing."