WASHINGTON — After gaining 8,000 soldiers in the latest round of military consolidations, Colorado took a hit Thursday when the base closing commission voted to send 1,250 Pentagon accounting jobs to other states.
The commission recommended closing the Defense Finance Accounting Services center in Denver, saying the military could shrink its administrative staff if the center’s paycheck-
processing functions were done elsewhere.
The Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission also voted to close the Air Reserve Personnel Center in Denver and move most of the jobs to Buckley Air Force Base in the east Denver suburb of Aurora. The total number of positions affected was not immediately available.
“Overall, Colorado came out ahead with the additional personnel assigned to Fort Carson,” Gov. Bill Owens said, “but the decision affecting the Denver area is unfortunate.”
The BRAC vote to close the accounting office reversed the Pentagon’s initial plan to add 1,500 jobs there.
“I think this is one of the best actions done by this particular BRAC team,” said commission member James T. Hill. “We’ve got a better proposal, it’s a fairer proposal.”
A day earlier, the commission approved a Pentagon plan to move the entire 4th Infantry Division to Fort Carson, near Colorado Springs, while moving the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment from Fort Carson to Fort Hood, Texas.
The shifts were expected to result in a net gain of 8,000 troops at the post. Colorado Springs officials have said additional, still-undisclosed moves could push the total gain to 12,000.
The commission’s recommendations must be approved by President Bush before they become final. Congress will also have a chance to veto the recommendations.
The vote to close the accounting center dismayed Colorado officials.
“I am extremely disappointed in today’s decision,” said Rep. Bob Beauprez, R-Colo. “As I said in my testimony to the committee, I found no substantive justification for doing this.”
Sens. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., and Wayne Allard, R-Colo., both called the decision disappointing.
All but 60 of the employees of the Defense Financing Accounting Service center in Denver are civilians.
The number of jobs at the Air Reserve Personnel Center was not clear. Tech. Sgt. Robert Mims, who works at the center, put the total at 438, but the commission has said it is 1,600.