How the Government Shutdown is Impacting Agencies in the Ozarks

Oct 1, 2013

Local agencies are feeling the pinch after Congress failed to reach a midnight deadline for a stop-gap spending bill, preventing an estimated 800,000 federal employees from working. KSMU’s Theresa Bettmann reports on who is and isn’t open for business.

Many services were continuing Tuesday despite the partial government shutdown, including processing of passport applications and controlling air traffic. All VA medical centers and clinics are open for business, as is the Western District of the Missouri Federal Court system.

In a call to KSMU, Springfield-Branson National airport spokesperson Kent Boyd stated that TSA and FAA employees are at work.  Boyd says it is his understanding that these employees are not getting paid, yet they are required to work since their jobs are safety related.

The VA released a statement saying that advance appropriations are in place for 2014 allowing them to remain open, which includes Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks.  These advance appropriations provide funds for claims processing and payments, pension, education and vocational rehabilitation services through late October.  In the event of a prolonged shutdown, payments will continue until funds are exhausted. 

Brendan Griesemer is neighborhood conservation manager for the City of Springfield. He says funding for housing programs are not being affected, but he adds there are no federal personnel to reach out to for questions or technical support.

“We receive our funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  As of right now the financial systems are deemed as essential services, so we are able to draw down our funding the city receives to continue our affordable housing at this point.  But we don’t know how long that will last,” Griesemer says.

National Parks are among those that were forced to close, including Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield in southwest Missouri. In visiting their website Tuesday, you’re greeted with the message, “Because of the federal government shutdown, all national parks are closed and National Park Service webpages are not operating.”

Ted Hilmer is the superintendent at Wilson’s Creek, where nearly all of the park’s 45 employees have been placed on unpaid furloughs.

“My heart goes out to our employees; they do a great job here at the park. But at the same time, we are funded through appropriations and our appropriations have not been approved, so we have no choice but to close the doors,” Hilmer said.

Only two managers are on hand today to maintain the park and answer questions.  

Hilmer says there’s no guarantee that the park’s employees will receive back pay if Congress can agree to a solution to reverse the shutdown.  He adds that they’ve had to cancel upcoming visits from school groups and other organizations.

KSMU’s Michele Skalicky and Scott Harvey contributed to this story.

Click here for to find the appropriations lapse plan and the updated field guide for VA services

Click here for updates or changes regarding U.S. passport applications