Local agencies prepare for Sequester cuts

By: Taylor Temby Email
By: Taylor Temby Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) -- Agencies across the country-- including right here on the Western Slope-- are now waiting anxiously to see just how much federal money they could be losing from their programs.

For now, it's a waiting game. For many local programs that rely on federal dollars, it’s a matter of hearing just how detrimental the mandatory spending cuts could be.

We're heading into an uncertain future. With no apparent end to the Sequester in sight, cuts may soon be on the horizon for many programs around the country. Of course, those mandatory spending cuts will create a ripple effect, impacting local organizations relying on federal funds.

"When these cuts take place, it will be hard to say," Housing Resources of Western Colorado executive director Dan Whalen said. "We will feel the pinch as it goes along and our clients will also feel the pinch."

"The services we provide could certainly change or be decreased based on the smaller amount of money we receive,” Mesa County Health Department executive director Dr. Jeff Kuhr added.

The Mesa County Health Department relies on federal funds for about 68 percent of its budget. Similarly, several housing assistance programs are expecting new clients hit hard by these cuts.

"There’s going to be more people needing services such as the services we in housing authority and other housing providers have available,” Whalen said.

These spending cuts are expected to go further though, even impacting some of the Valley's most beautiful views,

"To throw [national parks] away because politicians can't agree on something seems really, really silly," Grand Junction resident Chani Capps said.

On Friday, residents rallied for the Colorado National Monument, as national parks are looking at potential cuts with fewer hires and furloughs for employees.

"If they're not able to hire the summertime, people to be able to keep up with the trails and the national parks, that's a concern as well," Grand Junction resident Jeanette Hensley said of the potential cuts.

The best these organizations can do for now is just prepare the best they can.

"We’ve got quite a few positions that we've chosen not to fill," Dr. Kuhr said.

"That’s what I think most agencies are doing, they're preparing budgets with up to a 10 percent cut," Whalen said.

The Grand Junction Regional Airport director says so far, he’s not sure how the TSA cuts will impact them directly. In anticipation of cuts, the airport is asking all passengers arrive at least two hours prior to their flights to make sure they have enough time to get through security.

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