Air Force Academy spending off $177M in fiscal '12

Dan Elliott, Associated Press
Air Force Academy spending off $177M in fiscal '12

FILE -- This undated file photo shows cadets in formation with the Cadet Chapel in the background at the Air Force Academy north of Colorado Springs, Colo. Air Force Academy spending has plunged as the military scales back across all branches. The academy's annual report on its economic impact says spending on payroll and other categories, such as construction and services, totaled $662 million in fiscal 2012, down $177 million or 21 percent from the previous year. (AP Photo, File)

DENVER (AP) -- Air Force Academy spending plunged by 21.1 percent in 2012 as the military scaled back across all branches.

Academy expenditures on payroll and other categories, such as construction and services, totaled $662 million in fiscal year 2012, according to the academy's annual report on its economic impact. That's down $177 million from the previous year.

The 2012 report, released July 3, did not address the reasons, but the military has been cutting spending as it refocuses and slims down for the post-Iraq, post-Afghanistan world.

Academy officials had no immediate response Tuesday.

Andy Merritt, a military specialist with the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance, said the cuts were expected under an agreement between President Barack Obama and Congress in 2011 to reduce $487 billion in projected Defense Department spending over 10 years.

"It's not entirely surprising to see," Merritt said.

Merritt said the academy reductions were a result of the 2011 budget agreement, not the federal automatic spending cuts known as sequestration. Sequestration took effect on Jan. 1, three months after the end of the 2012 fiscal year, when the academy cuts were completed.

Total academy payroll — including military personnel, civilian employees and contractors — was $346 million in 2012, down $71 million, or 16.9 percent.

About 9,800 military members and civilians worked at the academy in 2012, a decrease of 590, or 6 percent. It wasn't immediately clear whether any of the personnel cuts hit the faculty.

Military personnel at the academy totaled about 5,700 in 2012, down 700, or 10.9 percent, from 2011. The total included 4,108 cadets in 2012, 315 fewer than in 2011.

Construction spending accounted for $39 million of the decline. Construction can vary widely from year to year as older projects are completed and new ones get underway.

The academy, located just north of Colorado Springs, said its total economic impact on the area — including non-academy jobs created — was $899 million in 2012, down 10 percent, or $100 million, from the year before.

However, the 2012 total includes $48 million in categories that don't appear to be in the 2011 report — estimated spending during Parents Weekend, graduation week and the days when new cadets arrive, along with spending generated by sporting events and sports camps and contributions to the Combined Federal Campaign, a charity drive.

If those categories are removed, the 2012 economic impact was $851 million, down $148 million, or 14.8 percent.


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