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You are Viewing an Archived IssuePosted: 10/09/13
Few impacts seen locally
from federal shutdown
Officials say government shutdown could cause problems if it is long term
by CHRIS GRAYState and local representatives say the government shutdown shouldn't have an impact in the short-term, but may see consequences if it endures.
Observer Staff Writer
This is the first time the federal government has shut down since 1995, which lasted for 28 days. The partial shutdown was the result of the Senate and House not coming to terms on a spending plan, specifically on funding the health care law known as Obamacare.
The shutdown has affected 900 military personnel in Michigan, while national parks around the state have been closed. Locally, though, residents are seeing little impact in day-to-day activities.
State Representative Pete Lund said the short-term effects of the shutdown won't be a huge influence on Michigan, but may cause the state to pay for certain programs like Medicaid in the interim.
"It might be a little more cash up front, but we will be reimbursed for those types of projects," he said. "If it keeps going on, we'll do some appropriations at that point."
The Romeo Community Schools may see some of its programs affected, such as Title I and Title II funding and the food services program that is supplemented by federal dollars. Executive Director of Business Affairs David Massoglia said the district is currently waiting to see if the shutdown will only last for days before investigating further.
"We haven't brought it to the red alert status," he said. "If the shutdown continues, we'll dig into it more deeply."
He said the district's bonds, past and present, would not be affected by the shutdown since they're funded through tax levies. Massoglia said most other operations for the district are supported through state sources.
"Even in worst case we're not expecting a huge impact unless they cut all federal funding," he said.
In the Village of Romeo, little to no aspects of governmental operations are feeling the effects. Village Clerk Marian McLaughlin said Romeo is fairly self-sufficient, and deals with the state or county for most daily workings.
The shutdown may, however, affect the village's plans to refinance its 2004 sewer bonds. The village is waiting for interest rates to result in a savings of $350,000, and the shutdown could delay interest rates from reaching such points.
"Because that has already been on hold, it'll be on hold even longer," McLaughlin said.
Other local governments, such as those in Washington and Bruce townships, are also expecting next to no impact, though they agree an extended shutdown may cause some problems.
Bruce Township Clerk Susan Brockmann said the township has little interaction with the federal government, so there is little concern regarding the shutdown.
However, the agency that collects revenue from Medicare and Medicaid on ambluance runs for the township has 52 percent of its employees on furlough, so processing monthly payments may be delayed.
"They say Medicare and Medicaid payments will be good in the short-term, but as it goes on longer Medicaid benefits could be affected in the long term," Brockmann said.
Washington Township Supervisor Dan O'Leary said he doesn't foresee any negative effects on the township's operations. Even though some road projects in the township are funded in part by federal dollars, he said the money was allocated a while ago.
"We're not refinancing anything, and we may go for bonds in the future but not anytime soon where this would slow us down," he said.
He said most operations, such as water, sewer, roadwork, police and fire are largely provided by county and local governments, so residents won't see much of an impact on those services.
"If it's a shut down for a long period of time, we worry about the agencies that control road money, or various grant projects could be slowed down with employees on furlough," he said.
The shutdown is affecting operations at the Selfridge Air National Guard Base, placing 650 civilians and military technicians on furlough. In Michigan, a total of 900 Army and Air Force National Guardsmen and women were put on furlough.
Those actively serving, though, will continue to receive paychecks. On Oct. 3, both the House and Senate passed the Pay Our Military Act, which guaranteed all active members of the armed forces would receive payment during shutdowns. President Barack Obama signed it into law the same day.
U.S. Congresswoman Candice Miller was one member of a bipartisan group that asked for Reserve and Guard members to be declared exempt employees and return to work. The House passed H.R. 3230 to try and pay active and inactive Guard and Reserve members.
"The enemy and their bullets make no distinction between the regular armed forces and the Guard and Reserve, so it is beyond me to understand why this Congress would do so," Miller said on Oct. 3.