Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Monday

September 30, 2013

Budget impasse could threaten some local services

TRAVERSE CITY — A partial government shutdown could negatively affect some, though not all federal services and programs for those who live in the Grand Traverse region.

The U.S. Coast Guard station in Traverse City and other local ports would remain on full duty. Social Security and unemployment benefits checks would still go out, though there could be delays in processing new disability applications. Medicare benefits and Pell grants are solid.

The Internal Revenue Service would suspend all audits. Americans must still pay taxes and file federal tax returns, but won't have the usual toll-free numbers to call.

The long-anticipated health insurance exchange will go live as planned Tuesday, but funding is still up in the air.

“People will still be able to enroll,” said Marti Lolli of Priority Health, an exchange participant. “That gives the government a bit of time, a couple of months, to get funding in place.”

 

Unwanted vacation at Sleeping Bear?

Employees at Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore are scurrying to prepare for a park shutdown, a move that will furlough all but four of 60 employees and could hurt tourism.

“Technically, the park will be closed,” said Tom Ulrich, Sleeping Bear Dunes deputy superintendent. “We won’t be able to gate every trail, but technically the grounds are closed. Where we can, we’ll block access — the Scenic Drive, the Dune Climb, but of course you’re not going to block the county roads.”

Visitors will still have access to beaches and trails, but restrooms and the Visitor Center will be closed, he said.

A shutdown also means campers at Platte River and D.H. Day campgrounds would be given 48 hours to leave.

“We have quite a number of people in the Platte River campground, 82 campers,” said Ulrich, adding D.H. Day is about 10 percent full.

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