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Federal government shutdown unlikely to have a major effect on Lodi area

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Posted: Wednesday, October 2, 2013 12:00 am

On Tuesday, government and school leaders in Lodi and across California were still trying to determine potential effects of the federal shutdown.

The consensus: The effects should be minimal, especially if the shutdown doesn’t drag on.

For instance, those who are dependent on food stamps and other assistance from the county will be unaffected for the immediate future. San Joaquin County’s Human Services Agency will continue to provide food stamps unhindered by budgetary restrictions, at least through October, said director Joe Chelli.

Senior Deputy County Administrator Elena Reyes said the same applies for every department in the county.

“If there is a solution at the federal level in the next few weeks we anticipate little to no impact,” she said. “However, should it go past the end of the month there will likely be impacts.”

Reyes added that county officials are in the process of evaluating the magnitude of potential effects.

Here is a rundown of local and regional considerations:


If the federal shutdown has any effect on education, poor children are among those most likely to be hurt through the closure of programs such as Head Start, according to state Superintendent of Schools Tom Torlakson.

“Sadly, the first people affected will likely be some of the people who can least afford it — young children, students and low-income families,” he said in a news release.

Because many other federally funded programs, such as Title I and career and technical education, have already received this year’s appropriation, immediate effects on California’s education system will be limited in the short term. The big-ticket federal education programs serving local students — $1.8 billion a year for low-performing schools and $1.4 billion a year for special education — will be unscathed, according to a memorandum from the U.S. Department of Education.

Those programs, along with grants for Career and Technical Education, are deemed “a necessary exception” to the spending halt and will receive their scheduled Oct. 1 funding distribution, the federal department said.

Locally, in the Galt Joint Union Elementary School District, this year’s Race to the Top money has already been allocated, according to Superintendent Karen Schauer, so elementary programs should not be affected.

The district was one of only a handful nationwide to receive the coveted federal funding to improve curriculum through technology. Millions will be paid out over a number of school years.

However, some local school district funding, including support for the Child Development Block Grant, could be affected within days, according to Torlakson. This could have an impact on Galt’s pre-kindergarten program. And no new Head Start grants will be issued during the shutdown.

A short-term shutdown should not be of any concern, Tim Hern, Lodi Unified School District associate superintendent, said in an email.

“The long term would depend on how long the shutdown lasts. It could interfere with the processing of payments to the state, which in turn would affect the district as far as cash is concerned,” he said.

Although payments may be delayed for U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded school lunch and breakfast programs, local districts are expected to continue to serve meals to children.

City government

At the municipal level, cities will likely see few disruptions as their budgets do not rely heavily on federal funding.

Lodi City Manager Rad Bartlam said that while the city gets a variety of grants from the federal government, city services won’t be affected by the federal shutdown.

“We’re obviously keeping an eye on that,” Bartlam said. “But as far as day-to-day activities, we really don’t see this as having an impact. We think there will be a resolution to the issue sooner rather than later.”

Much of the city’s federal money comes in the form of block grants that have already been disbursed.

Some federal programs, such as Community Development Block Grants, require the city to submit its expenditures to the federal government for reimbursement. Bartlam said the federal government shutdown would have to drag out for an extended period of time before these kinds of programs are affected.

Galt City Manager Jason Behrmann is unaware of any shortor long-term effects on Galt.

And the Sacramento Employment and Training Agency — which has an office in Galt and administers a host of local federally funded programs, including career centers, Head Start and youth and refugee services — will not be affected by the looming federal government shutdown, said spokeswoman Terri Carpenter.

“Nothing has been said to us at all,” she said. “We’re operating as usual. No impacts are projected for our organization at this point.”

The agency’s programs have already been funded through June 2014, she said.

“Our career centers are open as usual,” she said. “We’re fiscally sound for the next fiscal year.”

National parks

In California, the shutdown has forced Yosemite, Muir Woods and other national parks to close until further notice.

However, the closure of Yosemite has actually helped business soar for attractions near the park, at least for the first day.

“All the people who are not able to go to the park are coming here so they have something to do,” said Blythe Haywood, an employee for Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad, which is based four miles from the entrance of the park along Highway 41.

Owner Max Stauffer, whose business provides guided steam engine tours through a four-mile stretch of the Sierra National Forest, said ticket sales jumped 50 to 60 percent on Tuesday.

Steam engines weren’t scheduled to operate, but with the seismic jump in customers, three trains gave tours on Tuesday.

Stauffer said his business has received a variety of customers, including many from overseas who were forced to leave Yosemite on Tuesday. Stauffer adds that while the shutdown has benefited his business, overall it will be a black mark on tourism.

“We’re disappointed because it affects the general tourism perception,” he said.


The Bureau of Reclamation, which manages water in the western United States, furloughed 3,311 of its 5,077 employees as a result of the shutdown.

The bureau, which has an office in Tracy, is also implementing more than a dozen contingency plans in order to prevent the shutdown from affecting the management of water and power in 17 western states.

The federal shutdown won’t affect California’s ability to battle fires, including the Rim Fire, which is more than 90 percent contained.

CalFire Spokesman Daniel Berlant said that prior to the shutdown, the United States National Forest Service made funds available in order for fire operations to continue.

“As far as fire fighting in California, everything remains the same,” he said.

Mail services and road construction will also operate as usual.

News-Sentinel reporter Todd Allen Wilson and the Sacramento Bee contributed to this report.

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