News of cuts at Robins Air Force Base prompted discussion of the base's future, and how to protect it by making it as competitive as possible.
Results of next week's SPLOST vote may be key to keeping RAFB competitive in the future, according to several community leaders.
If voters pass the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, the penny tax stands to raise about $190,000,000.
Six million would go towards purchasing land near the base, which is currently largely residential.
Are you in the encroachment zone? Here's the map.
"I will put it in very plain talk-- it's critical," says Macon-Bibb Chamber of Commerce President Chip Cherry of resolving encroachment issues.
State Senator Ross Tolleson says Thursday's announcement likely was unavoidable.
"Those decisions were made in Washington through the structure throughout the whole country," says Tolleson. "So I don't think we could have done anything to make a difference."
But Warner Robins Air Logistics Center Commander Bob McMahon says resolving encroachment issues could help prevent future cuts.
"The folks in Oklahoma City and the folks in Utah have taken care of their encroachment issues,"says McMahon. "They're looking for every competitive edge, and if there's a negative discriminating factor, I think the community is looking at how we eliminate that."
Leaders say it's one of Robins' weakest points. Homes too close to the base reside in the flight crash-zone and pose a safety hazard. They also limit growth.
Cherry says we need to learn from other bases, like Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma.
"They passed a $50 million bond referendum to deal with their encroachment, put some other things in place to make them more competitive," says Cherry. "Whether that played a role in them getting this headquarters operation, I think that warrants some review."