Sequester Could Impact Employees at U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

March 7, 2013 Updated Mar 7, 2013 at 7:39 PM EDT

By Kyla Igoe

March 7, 2013 Updated Mar 7, 2013 at 7:39 PM EDT

BUFFALO, NEW YORK (WKBW)- The looming sequester cuts could impact the workers at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Buffalo and local boaters this season as well. The Black Rock Lock, operated by the Army Corps of Engineers, is a busy spot during boating season. The site provides safe travel for pleasure boats and freighters to avoid the strong currents of the Niagara River. The future of the lock operations and countless other federal projects are unknown since the Army Corps of Engineers is facing a 5% funding cut for its civil works projects. This is part of the sequester's general reduction at the Department of Defense.

"The Department of Defense is planning for a furlough, a non-paid furlough of 1 day per week for employees," said Josh Feldmann, Chief of Operations for the Buffalo District of the Army Corps of Engineers.

Close 200 civilian employees in Buffalo could be subject to a furlough. This includes 4 full-time operators who currently oversea the lock. Services could be also be drastically reduced.
During the peak boating season the Black Rock Lock is open 7 days a week.

"I can't speculate on what this (furlough) might mean," said Feldmann. "It's my job to schedule that lock, use the resources available to me, to make sure it's open at convenient times and provide the level of service we're able to provide."

If there are to be furloughs, they would come in late April.