By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Limited local impact from federal government shutdown
Placeholder Image

Although large parts of the federal government have shut down due to a budget impasse in Congress, the impact to local governments and agencies are limited for now.

Both city and county government spokespersons said there were no effects from the shutdown locally to their knowledge.

"We receive no federal dollars for any programs we run so we are not affected," said Conyers Chief Operating Officer David Spann.

The school system might see a limited effect on some grants, but not on the Title I (which most Rockdale County Public Schools elementary schools receive) and Race to the Top funding.

According to a letter from the Ga. Department of Education Chief Financial Officer Scott Austin sent to local school systems, "Because the majority of funds provided for State Fiscal Year 2014 are actually from Federal Fiscal Year 12 Carryover and Federal Fiscal Year 13 Appropriations, we should not be greatly impacted by the lapse (these grants include, but are not limited to: Titles I and II of ESEA, IDEA Part B State and CTAE grants)."

However, free and reduced school lunch program might face a tougher battle if the shutdown continues for a long period of time.

"In the event that the shutdown continues for a protracted period, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will continue to communicate the availability of funds. Again, the GaDOE will monitor this situation and communicate any necessary changes. Unless you hear differently from the GaDOE, please continue serving free and reduced meals," wrote Austin.

Passport processing at the Rockdale County courthouse will continue. A statement from the Atlanta Passport Agency said, "Department of State and the Bureau of Consular Affairs/Passport Services will continue to operate even if Congress does not pass a continuing resolution... Passport Services will be open and operating this week."

Local law enforcement will also not be affected, said Rockdale County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Scott Freeman, though the RCSO will continue to monitor the effect of some services to the public. Local gun permit processing, finger printing and background checks are continuing at this point.

Social Security offices around the country have cut the services they're offering, but payments will keep going out and offices will remain open and can continue to help people applying for benefits and make changes to accounts. But they cannot issue new or replacement Social Security cards, replace a Medicare card or issue a proof of income letter. Hearings for disability cases are not expected to be held during the shutdown.

Federal funding for the WIC program (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children) has been cut off, but the program is administered by states, and state spokeswoman Nancy Nydam said, "Georgia WIC is operating business as usual. The Georgia Department of Public Health and Georgia WIC are working on steps to keep WIC operating for as long as possible."

National parks and recreation areas have or are being shut down, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park and the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area would be included in the shuttering.

The state has multiple other national parks, including Ocmulgee National Monument, the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail, Jimmy Carter National Historic Site, Fort Pulaski National Monument, Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, and the Cumberland Island National Seashore. Local media confirmed all of the above sites are closed; even the parts of the Appalachian Trail overseen by the National Park Service have been closed.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is not doing inspections.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will stop its seasonal flu program and has a "significantly reduced capacity to respond to outbreak investigations," according to multiple media outlets.

Spokesman Sam Hall said Tuesday that all Georgia Department of Labor career centers will be open during their normal business hours, and the shutdown won't affect state unemployment insurance benefits or federal emergency unemployment compensation, according to the Associated Press. Labor department officials say people are encouraged to keep appointments with department staff, and attend scheduled workshops.

The Federal Housing Administration, which insures about 15 percent of new loans for home purchases, will approve fewer loans for its client base - borrowers with low-to-moderate income - because of reduced staff, according to the Associated Press. The agency will focus on single-family homes during the shutdown, setting aside loan applications for multi-family dwellings. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac won't be affected.

The Washington Post reported that Pell Grants and Direct Student Loans could be affected, because of a shortage of staff to process payments, if the shutdown is prolonged; more than 14 million students receive some form of federal student aid. Several federal websites had limited functionality because of the shutdown, and Georgia Senators Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson both had messages on their websites warning that their offices would be performing "very limited, necessary services.''