In wake of federal government shutdown, business continues in West Linn
City hall and schools not impacted in short term
With the federal government shut down, and more than 800,000 workers furloughed across the country, very little has changed at a local level in West Linn.
City hall remains open for business, as do all other municipal buildings, and according to Assistant City Manager Kirsten Wyatt, meaningful impacts will only be seen if the shutdown continues for an extended period of time.
The city of West Linn would not be affected by the federal government shutdown unless it lasted for many months," Wyatt said. "Then there would be the hypothetical situation where grants administration for some of our projects could be delayed.
The partial shutdown began on Tuesday after the U.S. Congress failed to pass a continuing resolution to fund government affairs for fiscal year 2014. Mail and Social Security checks will still be delivered, but all national parks including Oregons Crater Lake and Mount Hood National Forest are closed and service has been suspended at the Bureau of Land Management in Oregon and Washington.
In a statement, U.S. Congressman Kurt Schrader lamented Congress inability to come to an agreement on the budget.
Oregonians expect their Congress to work together to pass a budget, create certainty in the markets for investors and get folks back to working good, family-wage jobs, Schrader said. What they do not expect from us is to pound our chests over lost political causes, risk shutting down the economy and end vital services and investments they depend on.
State Rep. Julie Parrish, R-West Linn, said the federal shutdown would not impact West Linn in the short term, but understood the concern from constituents.
It shouldnt have a huge impact, Parrish said. But its frustrating and confusing at the end of the day, you wish Congress could be a little more like Oregon, where both parties are at the table.
Parrish said one of the most common concerns she heard focused on how the shutdown would impact local public schools, but that as I understand it, it should not affect schools.
Indeed, West Linn-Wilsonville School District Administrative Assistant Kathy Ludwig said, "We do not have any impact this year to our federal funding due to the shutdown."
If funding remained intact after the shutdown, some field trips in the area were not so lucky. In Scappoose, a group of fourth-grade students was scheduled to visit Mount St. Helens on Tuesday, only to see the trip canceled when the shutdown closed the National Volcanic Monument.
Ludwig said on Tuesday that she had not heard of any field trip cancellations in West Linn or Wilsonville.
Also closed was the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge in Sherwood, which includes 3,058 acres of land with an initial 12-acre private donation established at the refuge in 1993 and is normally opened Tuesdays through Sundays.
The closing of the Bureau of Land Management, meanwhile, prompted the shutdown of 4,000 recreation facilities, including visitor centers, facilities, campgrounds, boat ramps and other recreation sites in Oregon and Washington.
However, according to a BLM press release, the bureau will continue limited work including the inspection and enforcement activities for more than 190 oil and gas leases in Oregon and Washington, covering over 320,000 acres.
Among the BLMs 1,994 employees in Oregon and Washington, 1,967 will be furloughed during the shutdown.
All parks, campgrounds and visitor areas operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Oregon and Southwest Washington are also closed. Customers with camping reservations can call 1-888-448-1474 to cancel and receive a refund.
Security personnel will remain on the grounds, the Corps said.
On Oct. 4, the Oregon Employment Department announced that the release of its monthly statewide unemployment data would be delayed. The data was originally scheduled to be released on Oct. 15.
While federal workers stay home, members of Congress will continue to be paid for their service. With that in mind, Schrader made a promise in his statement.
I firmly believe that if members of Congress fail to perform their most basic duty in passing a budget, then they do not deserve to be paid, Schrader said. It is in that vein that I will be donating the congressional salary I collect during the shutdown to a local Oregon charity to be named later.
Its time for Congress to get its act together.