Government shutdown affects some in mid-Mo.

Oct 1, 2013

Credit Rusty_1 / Flickr

The government shutdown has affected some, but not all, federally-funded organizations in the area.

Medical Buildings

The Columbia Vet Center is operating regularly Tuesday despite the shutdown. The Center’s funds are appropriated ahead of time, meaning they did not lose any funding to the shutdown.

“Our funds are appropriated a year ahead of time so our 2014 fiscal year funds, which start today, were appropriated last year,” Acting Team Leader  Shawn Martin said.

The Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital also remains open because of the hospital’s approved budget through the 2014 fiscal year, meaning it will operate normally as long as the shutdown continues.

US Army Corps of Engineers Kansas City District

Not all federal extensions were lucky enough to avoid the shutdown. The US Army Corps of Engineers Kansas City District closed Corps-operated campgrounds and day-use parks across the state. All campers on Corps campground prior to the shutdown must vacate by 8 Wednesday night.

The closings will also affect facilities at The Corps’ lake projects throughout the state, including those in Mid-Missouri. District Spokesperson David Kolarik said the Corps is doing its best to deal with the closures and hopes it can resume day-to-day operations soon.

“We’re basically just going with an orderly shutdown based on the guidance we’ve been given. We are managing our operations, our day-to-day operations based on the guidance we’ve received from above and we really hope that we get this resolved soon so we can go back to serving the public,” Kolarik said.

Kolarik did add that all activities essential to national security and safety will continue to operate regularly and the Corps’ dams and hydropower plants will remain unaffected. The Corps hopes to work with campers to keep them updated on campground status during the shutdown.

Parks

The Mark Twain National Forest and others across the country are closed while the government is not session. When the government shutdown went official on Tuesday morning, the closing of national parks and sites went into full effect, as well.

Small business owners like Mike Smith, owner of Windy’s Canoe Rental in Eminence, Mo., said that he and several others are feeling the impact already.

“We’ve turned away a number people just today that have wanted to go floating, and we can’t take them out because of it,” Smith said.

Smith said campgrounds, cabin rentals and other small businesses centered around tourism are all affected.

Julie McPike is the program coordinator for Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area, which covers 41 counties in eastern Kansas and western Missouri. She said there will be an impact on heritage tourism in the Kansas City area, particularly because of the Harry S. Truman National Library and Historic Site closing.

“I do think those are draws for heritage tourists,” McPike said. “And I do think there could be some impacts from that, depending on how long the shutdown lasts.”

State and city parks are still open as normal, but national parks remain closed until the federal government opens its doors.

Central Missouri Community Action

The federal government shutdown could affect Central Missouri Community Action (CMCA) including Columbia’s Head Start program.

Executive Director Darin Preis said CMCA has not been affected yet because the organization has reserve money, but it could become a problem if the shutdown doesn’t end soon.

“The question for us is how long is this going to last?” Preis said. “And will they ultimately be able to pay out the contracts that they are federally obligated?”

Preis said Congress has acted “irresponsibly” by not passing the federal budget. He estimates if the shutdown lasts 30 to 45 days, then CMCA would have to shut down some of its services.

He said that would affect families who depend on the Head Start Program to take care of their kids while they work.

“They’re going to have to ask their employers to adjust their hours or call in sick. And that slows down productivity for the employer. And then you start to see a cycle of effect that is hard to say where that ends,” Preis said.

Preis said the organization has already trimmed costs over the past two years so there’s not much left to cut. The organization is working to diversify its revenue so they are not as dependent on federal contracts.