U.S. government shutdown not hurting Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan (yet)Wednesday, October 02, 2013 by: Darren Taylor
The current U.S. federal government shutdown of many of its services is not having an impact on municipal government's day-to-day operations in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.
At least not yet.
That from Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan City Manager Spencer Nebel.
Speaking to SooToday.com Wednesday, Nebel said that much of Sault Michigan's funding for operating expenses comes from the Michigan state government.
Nebel said a negative impact would start to be felt at the local level if the federal shutdown continues "for an extended period of time, a month or two."
While no one expects the crisis to continue for as long as that, Nebel said Sault Michigan's Dial-A-Ride Program, for example, would definitely be affected if the shutdown indeed lasts that long.
The Dial-A-Ride Program, which is a demand and response transit system, runs through a dispatcher from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
A handicapped-accessible bus provides door-to-door service for customers (no fixed route), which is of great benefit to seniors and those living with disabilities in particular.
Nebel told us the U.S. federal government provides funding to Sault Michigan's Dial-A-Ride Program in the amount of $100,000 annually.
The current crisis began Tuesday after the country's budget year ended September 30.
Disagreement between Democrats and Republicans in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, along with some disagreement within Republican ranks, is making it impossible to settle on a temporary spending bill which would allow the U.S. government to keep on running its services and paying many of its employees.
While one side waits for the other to blink first, paycheques for 800,000 of 2.1 million U.S. government workers are on hold.
Essential services, such as Homeland Security, air traffic control, the military, prisons, mail delivery, payment of social security cheques and provision of emergency medical care continue.
Services such as those provided by the Environmental Protection Agency and passport processing are on hold, and with 800,000 paycheques in limbo, the effect on the U.S. economy will be felt.
U.S. legislators must also soon deal with the October 17 deadline concerning the country's debt ceiling.
Congress must pass legislation to allow the government to exceed its debt limit, which currently stands at a staggering $16 trillion, or else Washington will not be able to pay its bills, going into default and causing disastrous effects for the economy.