Sequester means funding cuts for local agencies

March 1, 2013 6:40:18 PM PST
A gridlock between lawmakers means $85 billion in federal spending cuts will arrive and some local agencies will be affected.

Frequent flier James Nichols believes the affects of Sequestration have already arrived at Philadelphia International Airport.

"Seeing the lines today, I'm hoping they do something soon," said Nichols.

People like Nichols fear perpetual lines at security check-points and flight delays when $85 billion in spending cuts takes effect at midnight.

Federal agencies at the airport, like the Transportation Security Administration, Federal Aviation Administration and the Customs and Borders Protection, could be impacted.

However, PHL airport officials say service has not been affected.

"We haven't received any information that there will be any impact to service here in Philadelphia and we have been in close contact with all our federal partners the CBP TSA and FAA," said Victoria Lupica.

There's also no impact on the docks of Philadelphia where USDA agents inspect foods, nor on construction sites open to OSHA inspectors.

No word of any furloughs or when they might occur at either agency.

The Sequester could produce cuts in medical funding. Penn Health saying it could lose $19 million in Medicare but no word if that would reduced staff or services.

Philadelphia City Hall says cuts could mean 400 fewer Headstart slots next year and 30 fewer staffers but did not say what percentage of the Headstart program that would effect.

Montgomery County Commisioner Josh Shapiro says seniors could be impacted. His county delivers 250,000 meals on wheels a year.

"If the Sequester goes into effect, we would lose 1,500 meals to families in Montgomery County and be forced to put approximately 30 people on a waiting list," said Shapiro.

SEPTA gets federal funds but doesn't expect cuts since the money comes from a trust fund that is exempt from the Sequester.

Finally Independence National Park - a Sequestration hiring freeze is tentatively in place with the current workforce at about 200.

"If this moves forward we will be looking at fewer staff just across the board not only rangers but also electricians, the plumbers, ground crew and that would mean we would provide fewer visitor services," said June Crowley.

All these budget cuts come because Washington lawmakers couldn't reach a deal.

While President Obama says he could not force a deal, people in Center City say they're frustrated by the bi-partisan friction.

"It always comes down to the middle-class people who get the brunt of it," said Theresa Hill.

"We just want our country to be run properly, everybody sit down and work it out. We're in this together," said John Anderson.