'It's like it never happened'

Local programs, services back to normal following shutdown
Oct. 24, 2013 @ 05:01 AM

A week after the federal government reopened, Lee County services halted by the shutdown are back in action.

A hiring freeze enacted by the Lee County Board of Commissioners in the wake of the Oct. 1 shutdown will be lifted Nov. 1, and the county should be able to recover any spent funds, according to Lee County Manager John Crumpton.

"All programs are back in place, and everything is running as normal," he said.

While some county employees were furloughed, none were on a full-time basis, Crumpton said.

"We had some take a day or two to help us with cost, but no one was [furloughed] on a permanent basis," he said.

If the shutdown had continued into November, Crumpton said services would have been drastically cut, and more employees would have been furloughed.

Federal subsidies for nearly 500 low-income children within the county were suspended, impacting 47 day care facilities, but those services — along with adult day care and the Work First Family Assistance payments — are back in operation, said Social Services Director Brenda Potts.

"However, there is one source of federal/state funding that was restored but is inadequate for the services that is supports," she wrote via email Wednesday. "So we will have to be mindful of time spent on those type of cases, and most of those services are in adult services and some children's services."

Applications for Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, or WIC, were temporarily suspended and benefits were halted, but the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services covered the cost shortly after they were suspended. Health Director Terrell Jones said in a previous interview that 30 percent of the funds for the local health department came from the federal government, and seven WIC employees were set to be furloughed.  

"Everything is back to normal," Jones said Wednesday. "It's like it never happened. We don't have any services that have been disrupted. We had one day were WIC vouchers weren't issued, but that was caught back up."

Some County of Lee Transit System (COLTS) employees were furloughed, and at least one route was altered during the two-week-long shutdown, said Senior Services Director Debra Davidson.

"Everything is normal here, at least until the next one," Davidson said. "And I hope it doesn't happen. But we are back to capacity."

The N.C. Division of Aging and Adult Services agreed to fund the senior services department through Oct. 31, Davidson said, adding if the shutdown had continued into November, services would have been drastically cut.

Some of the repayment to the county might be delayed as the federal government catches up, but Crumpton said he doesn't see any problems moving forward.

"I just hope we don't have to go through this again in January," he said. "It will be nice if [Congress] can get back to passing an annual budget instead of passing these continuing resolutions. It's creating a lot of chaos."