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CLARKSVILLE, TENN. — A revised Army assessment of cuts to its force structure indicates the potential for Fort Campbell to lose approximately half its work force by 2020, amounting to a nearly $1 billion per year hit to area income.

The draft report released Thursday by the U.S. Army Environmental Command evaluated impacts of projected cuts to over 30 areas with a sizable Army population.

The projected cuts are based on revisions of figures from an earlier report, the 2013 Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA), that anticipated reductions to the current force by 72,000 personnel, from a 2012 level of 562,000 to a total of 490,000 active Army troops.

The 2014 Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Assessment (SPEA) calculates impacts using a figure nearly double the original estimate, representing a loss of 140,000 troops and an active duty force end-state of 420,000.

Installations such as Fort Campbell, with two or more BCTs (Brigade Combat Teams) in FY 2012, are anticipated to lose two BCTs, "as well as 60 percent of the installation's non-BCT soldiers and 30 percent of the Army civilian workforce," according to the report.

Economic effects

Next to the education/health care/socialservices sector, Fort Campbell is the region's biggest economic driver and the largest employer in both Tennessee and Kentucky.

Under Alternative 1 in the SPEA, assuming a restoration of sequester cuts in 2016, Fort Campbell is projected to lose 15,209 active duty troops and 791 civilians, for a total of 16,000 personnel out of a population of 32,281 (2011 figure).

The other alternative in the report assumes no change, which the report authors call "unrealistic" and is used only as a baseline to measure effects.

If an estimated 24,488 military family members are included, the population loss to the affected area, which encompasses Montgomery and Stewart counties in Tennessee and Christian and Trigg Counties in Kentucky, is estimated to be over 40,000 persons, or about 14 percent.

Beyond the direct reduction in permanent party military and civilian personnel, the report estimates a loss of 1,807 direct contract service jobs and 1,798 "induced" jobs, the latter figure representing a loss of employment due to a reduction in demand for goods and services. Total employment reduction is estimated at 19,605 jobs lost or -17.6 percent, both military and non-military, from a total employed labor force in the area of 120,786.

While assessing that population loss might be overstated due to some displaced personnel remaining in the area, the SPEA goes on to state, "There are few employment sectors in the (area) to absorb the number of displaced military employees. A small number of displaced personnel may seek and find work within the (area); however, others may not be able to find new employment, with possible implications for the unemployment rate."

With those losses, yearly income in the area is expected to fall by 7.7 percent, or $986.6 million. Total reduction in sales is estimated at $768.6 million with a corresponding loss in sales tax receipts in both Tennessee and Kentucky, estimated at between $7.4 to $11.6 million annually.

The SPEA cautions that due to other factors based on Army needs, the projected losses may not occur "to the full extent analyzed or that each installation analyzed will incur losses."

Other impacts

Among other socioeconomic effects to the area measured by the SPEA, the effect on the housing market due to anticipated total population losses is assessed as "significant to minor," although the effect in the Montgomery County area with a larger percentage population of military-related persons would be worse than in surrounding counties.

A decrease in housing demand and a large number of vacant properties would adversely affect home values in an area where the housing market has generally been on a recovery trend.

For area schools, enrollment declines based on an estimate of 10,000 military-connected children attending school off-post would significantly affect Federal Impact Aid dollars, though the possible loss is not assessed in the report.

As with housing and other sectors, the loss would be proportionally greater in Montgomery County.

The SPEA states, "The Clarksville-Montgomery County School System would experience the greatest loss in Federal Impact Aidfunds because their share of military-connected students is greater than other school districts. This school system has invested local funds to support the construction of new schools due to a growing student population, particularly those who are military-connected students.

"These investments in capital improvements or new facilities require bond repayment/debt servicing. With decreased revenue for these school districts, it may place additional burden on school districts with potential implications for operations. These are fixed costs that would not be proportionately reduced such as those operational costs (teachers and supplies).

"Overall, schools within the (area), particularly those within the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System, would experience significant, adverse impacts from the decline in military-connected student enrollment that would result under Alternative 1. The reduction of military-connected students would likely create excess capacity that would be unsupportable over the long term."

Other impacts, such as environmental, energy use, wetlands, airspace, and transportation are assessed in the SPEA as either negligible, less significant, mitigable or beneficial.

The full report is available at http://aec.army.mil/Portals/3/nepa/Army2020SPEA-FNSI.pdf

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