With the federal government shutdown less than 24 hours old, life in the suburbs looks much like it did the day before. Behinds the scenes, officials are looking down the road to the implications of a long-term closure.
Need to mail a letter? The U.S. Postal Service is up and running.
Need to apply for a passport? The post offices are accepting applications, too, although the shutdown is delaying approval of those applications by federal employees.
However, it’s not a good time to go visit a national park, which are all closed. And thousands of federal employees in Chicago and the suburbs, as well as 2,000 civilians employed at Naval Station Great Lakes, are home today on furlough.
Village halls are open for business, but officials know that the logical conclusion of an long-term shutdown will be a negative effect on operations on the local level.
Don Owen, deputy village manager for Glenview, said long-term shutdowns of the federal government such as a few months could impact local village halls.
“We would have to think it through to keep going, but short-term shutdowns would have a low impact on local governments.”
Owen also said longer shutdowns could tie up villages in getting federal grants for storm water relief.
“With a federal funding shutdown, we might have to shift our funding priorities,” he said.
Deerfield Village Manager Kent Street said the staff is not expecting any impacts on an operational level, but they are checking on possible effects on construction projects.
“While the source of the funds may be the federal highway department’s trust fund, which we believe will still continue to distribute funding, the people who process that and indifferent activities may or may not continue to work,” Street said.
“We’re trying to find that out from the Lake County Department of Transportation, but may not know for days.”
Other non-governmental agencies that receive federal dollars are in the same boat.
John McNabola, executive director of the Center of Concern in Park Ridge, said the agency receives funding from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, which is used for its transitional housing program.
The program helps prevent homelessness by providing apartments and opportunities for individuals to build life skills, find employment and build up savings so they can afford their own apartment after the two-year program ends.
Funding is collected monthly from the U.S. government, and McNabola said he did not yet know how or if the shutdown would impact this housing program.
Center of Concern also receives funding from Cook County for emergency assistance and home sharing, funds that originate from the federal government, McNabola added.
Fran Hook Hume, CEO of Maine Center in Park Ridge, a provider of mental-health and substance abuse services, said the agency will not be directly impacted by the governmental shutdown, in part because the funding of Medicare and Medicaid is mandated, despite the shutdown.
“We are probably less impacted than others,” Hume said. “We don’t have a direct federal contract at this time, so we’re not going to get hit too hard this time.”
U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Deerfield, announced that as long as the government remains in shutdown, he will return his salary to the U.S. Treasury.
“In the real world, when people don’t do their jobs, they don’t get paid,” Schneider said. “Because some Republicans in Congress continue to hold fast to a narrow ideology they knew would force a shutdown, Congress is not doing its job to keep government functioning. Therefore, I will be returning my paycheck until Congress does the responsible thing and finds a solution to this unnecessary and harmful shutdown.”
Jennifer Johnson, Pat Krochmal and Todd Shields contributed to this report.