Last updated: October 03. 2013 11:05AM - 1794 Views
Jennifer Shrader Staff writer

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The effects of the government shutdown were becoming more apparent Wednesday in some agencies, while local governments still are waiting to see if federal grants and loans will be next to fall.

“We don’t know yet, but it’s very possible,” said Tod Tentler, Troup County manager, when asked if the shutdown will affect any federal grants the county uses to operate. Department heads were sent an email Tuesday asking them to go over their budgets and identify any problem areas.

LaGrange City Manager Tom Hall and West Point City Manager Ed Moon said they didn’t expect day-to-day operations to be affected.

Other programs, like the federally-funded Women, Infants and Children nutrition program, were not as lucky. The state Department of Public Health issued a statement saying it is “working on steps to keep WIC operating for as long as possible.”

The program serves 2,049 mothers in Troup County, including 902 children, 570 infants and 253 pregnant women.

It’s also still unknown how the shutdown will affect the Head Start preschool program, which is administered locally by Community Action for Improvement. Interim Director of CAFI, Catissa Head, said she wasn’t prepared to make a statement on the situation until meeting with her board on Thursday. She did confirm the local program still is operating.

According to CAFI’s website, the LaGrange center on McGregor Street has about 225 total students enrolled.

Juanita Yancey, executive officer of the Georgia Head Start Association, says she’s only heard of one Head Start program in the state that’s been affected immediately – the District 9 program in Gainesville. She’s asked Head Start directors to report to her office whether they are being affected by the government’s shutdown. Her organization serves as a trade association providing training and resources to Head Start staffs.

The shutdown won’t mean every Head Start operation is affected, Yancey said. Many are funded by several sources and everyone is on a different budget schedule.

“For some, their fiscal year began June 30, so they’re already in their funding window,” she said. “For some, their grant renews on Oct. 1 and they are affected.”

Local law enforcement agencies said they didn’t have any federal grants that they expected to be cut by the shutdown.

The city of Hogansville may have the most to lose – or at least be in jeopardy – if the shutdown continues. It recently received approval for a USDA grant and loan totaling about $5 million to build a new and badly needed sewage plant in the city.

“We don’t know yet,” if the shutdown would hold up the project, Hogansville City Manager James Woods said. The city does have one bit of good news to hang on to – the interest rate on the loan was secured before the shutdown and is locked in.

The city also had received another federal grant of about $99,000 to replace water valves, downtown signs and work on an Oak Street drainage project. Woods said that project was in progress when the shutdown happened.

“We may wind up having spent the money and not get reimbursed for a while,” he said.

Overall, however, the shutdown is “nothing we can’t weather through,” Woods said.

Congressman Lynn Westmoreland, R-Grantville, issued the following list Wednesday of what is and isn’t affected in the shutdown.

Agencies and Services NOT Affected

Entitlement Programs/Non-Discretionary Spending – Anything that is referred to as non-discretionary spending or entitlement programs will continue to operate normally. This includes Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. You will continue to get your Social Security checks and you can continue to apply for Social Security benefits.

Safety/Security – As a general note, anything that is necessary to protect public health, safety, or property will remain open and running. So, for example, the TSA will continue to operate as normal. In addition, all active duty military personnel are considered essential.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Unemployment Benefits – You will continue to receive both SNAP and unemployment benefits.

US Postal Service – This functions as an independent business unit, so you will continue to get your mail.

Disaster Response – Disaster response will not be affected. However, non-disaster grants such as preparedness programs will be postponed.

Food Safety/FDA – Food Safety and Inspection Service will continue all safety-related activities. The FDA would continue to monitor recalls and conduction investigations.

Veterans – Veterans should be able to continue to receive compensation for service or combat related injuries, however the Department of Veterans Affairs has said funding may run out by the end of October if the shutdown isn’t resolved by then. In addition, the VA has said home loans are funded with user fees and should continue.

Federal Housing Authority – The FHA has said it will continue to make new loans because they use a multi-year appropriations authority.

Agencies and Services that ARE Affected

Capitol Tours – The Capitol Building will be closed to tours.

Passports – The State Department has some funds to operate on without the congressional appropriation, so it will continue to function as long as possible. However, if you have need for a passport anytime soon, you should get your request in as quickly as possible.

National Parks – National parks will be closed. Campers already there will be given two days to leave.

Public Museums – Museums like the Smithsonian, the National Zoo, and the Holocaust Museum will all be closed. However, private museums like the Spy Museum and the Newseum will remain open.

WIC – There will be no money to pay the administrative costs for WIC. It is administered by the states, however, so there may be state funds available.

Center for Disease Control – If this shutdown mirrors the shutdowns in the 1990s, the CDC will close.

Small business loans – Government funded small business loans and mortgage insurance applications will not be processed.

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