The federal government shutdown caused by political gamesmanship in Washington, D.C. will have an impact on Tooele County.
However, the amount of that impact remains uncertain as the first day of the shutdown draws to a close.
The federal government is the largest employer in Tooele County, contributing $24 million or 15 percent of the total payroll for all workers in the county during the first quarter of 2013.
While Congress acted to insure that active military personnel will receive their paychecks, the Department of Defense, which has 1,320 employees in the county, expects that half of its civilian employees may be furloughed as long as the government is shutdown.
However, in Tooele County the number of furloughed civilian workers may be less than half.
“We don’t expect that the shutdown will affect Tooele Army Depot,” said Kathy Anderson, TEAD public affairs officer. “We have a different funding stream that is not affected by the shutdown.”
Dugway Proving Ground and the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command declined to provide a statement on the possible effects the government shutdown may or will have on Dugway.
As of Tuesday morning Tooele’s federal government employee union is still trying to assess the effect of the shutdown on its members.
“I expect we will have a few members that will be furloughed by the shutdown,” said Miceal Unrein, president of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 2185. “We are still gathering information and trying to assess the situation.”
The union represents federal employees at TEAD and Dugway.
The shutdown also affects some local programs that are federally funded.
The federal Women, Infant and Children program, which is administered by the Tooele County Health Department, was closed Tuesday as a result of the government shutdown, according to Myron Bateman, Tooele County Health Department director.
The program provides vouchers for nutritional food, counseling and screening services to low-income at risk mothers, expectant mothers, and children up to age 5. Tooele County has 1,200 people enrolled in WIC, Bateman said.
Four of the six employees in the local WIC program will be assigned other duties in the health department and two will be furloughed.
Some WIC clients already have checks for food assistance for the month of October. Those checks were going to be voided until the end of the shutdown, but the state has stepped in to make sure that WIC checks issued for October will be honored, according to Bateman.
During the shutdown, checks for Social Security, Veterans benefits, and Medicare will continue to be mailed.
However, the Veterans Affairs Department has warned that a prolonged shutdown extending into late October may cause the suspension of some benefits.
In general federal workers involved in programs that are related to health, safety and security will continue to work during the shutdown. Some federal workers that have a funding stream not dependent on the current lapsed Congressional funding bill will also continue to work.
Some programs that will continue to operate during the shutdown include food inspectors; NASA personnel that support astronauts on the Space Station; active military personnel; the U.S. Postal Service; air traffic controllers; prison guards and border patrol agents; and FBI agents and the Drug Enforcement Administration. Schools will also continue to receive funding for the school lunch program
Services closed by the shutdown include all national parks; the application process for small business loans; processing of new social security claims may be delayed, the Bureau of Land Management will stop all activity except law enforcement and emergency response; and federal criminal prosecutions will continue but civil cases may be curtailed.
The government shutdown was caused when Congress failed to approve a new continuing resolution by Oct. 1 that authorizes the federal government to continue to spend money.
Continuing resolutions are used to allow the federal government to continue to spend money and operate despite the lack of an approved budget and regular appropriation bills.
Republicans in the House used the continuing resolution to cause a showdown over funding the Affordable Care act, commonly called Obamacare, by tying delays in funding the ACA to the passage of a continuing resolution to fund the government.
Democrats in the Senate have refused to pass a continuing resolution that does not fund or delays funding for the ACA.
Since 1977 there have been 17 government shutdowns, most lasting for a few days, according to the Congressional Research Service.
The longest shutdown lasted 21 days from December 16, 1995 to January 6, 1996.