Budget cuts affect base custodial services

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- As the Air Force continues to strive to be Lean, Robins personnel may find themselves pitching in on more than extra work assignments.

Robins personnel will soon be taking out their own trash and helping to keep Robins beautiful by picking up litter and keeping their own work areas tidy.

"We need the base personnel and residents to help us keep Robins in tip top or first class shape," said Paul Kelley Chief of 78th Civil Engineer Squadron Operations. "We all have to work together to make sure things happen here at wonderful Robins and to keep Robins up to the standards we are accustomed."

The request for help and understanding from base personnel stems from a lack of funding for the support of base custodial services. The base anticipated spending $7.1 million in fiscal 2007 to maintain the base custodial level of support.

However, Air Force Materiel Command only allocated $4.8 million to Robins, Mr. Kelley said. This meant the base needed to come up with a way to cut $2.3 million out of the anticipated budget.

The base has three main types of service contracts: refuse and recycling, which was cut by $300,000; grounds maintenance, which was cut by $600,000; and custodial and litter, which was cut by $1.4 million.

"We are working right now with procurement to achieve the cost reductions we have projected," Mr. Kelley said.

The 78th Civil Engineering Group expects the cuts and new contracts to be implemented in February and is asking all workers to be prepared for the upcoming changes. All three of the service contracts will experience some reductions or elimination of services.

"We will no longer have a litter contract. We will no longer have people on base walking around with sticks and buckets picking up trash," Mr. Kelley said.

The Child Development Center and the Youth Center will not be affected by the cuts because custodial services must be maintained there due to federal guidelines. Some other areas that will not be affected by the cuts are airfield maintenance, composting operations and jogging trails. Mr. Kelley said none of the changes will affect base housing.

The irrigation systems will be eliminated in all areas but common use areas such as flower beds at the corner of Martin Luther King Boulevard and Robins Parkway and in enhanced areas, which includes all command areas such as Bldg. 215 and the command buildings of the 5th Combat Communications Group and the 116th Air Control Wing. Tree pruning and shrub bed maintenance will also be eliminated in all but enhanced areas.

One of the biggest differences personnel will notice next fall will be the absence of leaf removal, Mr. Kelley said. Leaf removal will be eliminated in all areas except for enhanced areas.

Other things that will be eliminated are floor maintenance, carpet maintenance and glass dusting.

The cuts will also result in less frequent services throughout base. Some examples are the Robins Fitness Center will only be cleaned once rather than twice a day, the base museum will be cleaned three times a week rather than the current six times a week.

Floors will now be mopped only twice a month and sweeping will be reduced from two to seven times a week to once a week. One of the most noticeable changes is personnel will be required to bag their own trash and carry it to a central location. Mr. Kelley said they are going to attempt to locate the central location for trash collection near the already established recycling centers.

"People need to understand this is because of budget cuts. This is not something we wanted to do. They are hard cuts, but these are the places that could produce the most savings," Mr. Kelley said.