Corps to Use Savings From 120 Jobs

Sat February 22, 2003 - West Edition

TULSA, Okla. (AP) The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will trim 120 jobs from its payroll through attrition and retirement incentives, officials say.

No one will be fired, corps spokesman Ross Adkins said earlier this month. The savings will allow the agency to pay for maintenance and repair dams and other structures at some of its 38 lakes in Oklahoma, northern Texas and southern Kansas, Adkins said.

The money saved will be used to replace promised-but-undelivered federal appropriations, Adkins said.

“We have some big jobs that need to be done — repair work,” he said. “The whole thing is based on safety, both for personnel and for our infrastructure.”

Dams within the corps’ Tulsa district are 50 years old and older, Adkins said.

“We don’t want anything catastrophic happening. Right now it’s not a critical thing, but it could be later on down the line if we didn’t do anything.”

Employees were sent letters earlier this month outlining the corps’ retirement incentives. The Tulsa district is reducing the number of field offices that oversee the 38 lakes from 11 to five.

By August, the district expects to have reduced its overall work force by 120 employees, saving $8.67 million.

Lakes within the Tulsa districts include five bodies of water created by locks and dams along the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System in eastern Oklahoma.

It also has one lake in Texas, not counting Lake Texoma, and eight lakes in Kansas.

The district has 627 permanent employees in its civil works division. Forty positions have been left vacant over the past couple of years.

“It’s really in the middle management and upper management areas that we’re doing the cutting,” Adkins said.

The civil works division, not the military division which does construction work on military bases, will be affected.

The top 10 items on the corps’ repair list cost $4.6 million. The district’s top goal is to replace flood gate hoist chains at the Canton Lake Dam, a job with a $3.2 million price tag.

The Tulsa district was appropriated $2 million for major repairs in fiscal year 2002 and none in fiscal year 2003, officials said.

The district spends two-thirds of its operation and maintenance funds on internal salaries, which ranks high among the corps 41 districts. The Tulsa district also has more responsibilities than any other district, Adkins said.

The restructuring should reduce the budget share devoted to payroll to about 57 percent.