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Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012

MWR: Looking toward 2012’s ‘new fiscal reality’

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As we look to 2012, we are all aware that we face a “new fiscal reality,” as a nation and an Army. Certainly there will be funding challenges ahead, and Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs that are funded by the Department of Defense will come under scrutiny here and across the globe. We will remain steadfast in our commitment to customer service, and will continue to be good stewards of appropriated and non-appropriated funds. You have my guarantee on that.

Perhaps you’re aware that a number of MWR programs receive funding from the Army, and others do not. The Family Entertainment Center, Benning Conference Center, bingo center and many others must generate a profit to remain solvent, just as any business outside the installation must do. We call these programs and facilities “non-appropriated,” meaning they are not supported by funds appropriated by the DoD.

In both areas, appropriated and non-appropriated, we will tighten our belts in the coming months to address a decrease in funding and profits.

The team at MWR has come up with a number of measures we can take to live within our means, and you, the customer, will not see or feel most of these changes. Whenever possible, we’ll work smarter and harder internally to maintain the standard of service you’ve come to expect.

Other changes will impact small segments of our community. For example, we will adjust operating hours at some facilities to reduce costs. A recent study of traffic at Smith Fitness Center shows, on average, fewer than 10 people use the gym between 4 and 5 a.m. By opening an hour later, we could save thousands of dollars annually and still exceed the Army’s minimum requirement for operation by more than 10 percent. This is just one of many options we’re considering in our attempt to make responsible changes that are as painless as possible for the fewest people possible.

In the past five years, MWR has invested more than $3 million in our ponds, parks and playgrounds. As we move forward, we will rely on our customers to help us keep these amenities clean and in good order, free of litter and waste, so we can concentrate our efforts and funds on the programs and events you value. We will allow some of our green spaces, including natural areas around our ponds, to grow unhindered, as long as the growth does not impede activities that benefit our Soldiers and their Families, activities such as the Kings Pond Campout and Family Fishing Night.

We will rely on our volunteers more and more to help us maintain robust sports programs for all ages; to serve as child care providers for unit events; to staff and support new and existing outdoor clubs and activities; to help us share information about MWR activities and services with your friends and neighbors. To inquire about any of these opportunities, give us a call at 706-545-3328.

I promise to keep you informed about the changes that will result from this new fiscal reality over the next few months. In return, I hope you will turn a deaf ear to speculation and rumor and take your questions and concerns straight to the source, via email at bennningmwr@gmail.com or Facebook at BenningFMWRfans. Stay tuned to benningMWR.com and On the Go for information on changes that may affect you as we move forward.

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