Shutdown Effects Vary In Woodbury
While city government operations will be business as usual, the ripples are already beginning to run through Woodbury.
With lawmakers and Gov. Mark Dayton unable to reach an agreement on the budget Thursday, the affects of a government shutdown vary widely in Woodbury.
From folks assuming the Washington County Service Center would close Friday (it won't), to Woodbury city officials saying city services will go on as usual, the shutdown has different implications for different groups, organizations, businesses and levels of government.
In Woodbury, city services will be unaffected by the shutdown, Administrator Clint Gridley has told Patch.
“We can pretty much operate independently (of the state),” he said.
Woodbury receives no state aid funds and there are no road projects that require city-state interaction this year. However, some questions about transportation and water quality normally answered by state agencies will have to wait, Gridley said.
While state parks will close, thousands of state workers will be laid off and other state services will be limited, the news for South Washington County Schools is good. State payments to districts will come in on time, district officials learned earlier this week. Nearly 80 percent of District 833’s funding comes from the state, Finance Director Aaron Bushberger said Thursday.
District 833 was looking at an August cash shortage if it was determined that schools wouldn’t receive their funds as scheduled, he said.
“It’s definitely good news for us,” Bushberger said.
Still, there are some concerns about teacher licensing that the district is looking into, he said.
Licensing was also a concern at Woodwinds Health Campus, where Cindy Bultena, chief nursing officer, said the hospital has recently focused on ensuring staffers’ credentials were up to date through August. The Woodbury complex receives no state funds, she said, but officials there won’t be able to do background checks or license verification for new hires while the government is shut down.
“When you have an open position, you want it to be filled,” Bultena said.
Still, she too is worried what might happen if there’s a prolonged shutdown. “Who knows what other implications may arise?”
County Service Center
Elsewhere Thursday, there were long lines at the Washington County Service Center in Woodbury, where some thought the Radio Drive facility would shut down along with non-critical state government operations. While the county’s service centers will remain open, they will have a 40-day supply of tabs and license plates, so they could run out of those items if the shutdown is prolonged.
The offices will not be able to process ATV, game and fish licenses at its license centers because the Department of Natural Resources system is down.
On the advice of her mother, Woodbury resident Aggie Ofori-Amanfo, 18, was at the service center Thursday to get her license renewed. “Better now than later.” She said it was busy at the Woodbury location and the mood inside was “crabby.”
“Crabby” was also how Woodbury resident Taryn Cedarstrom described things at the service center. She was there with her mother, Sue, to get her license renewed.
Woodbury’s James Franklin said a state trooper told him he should hurry up and get his tabs renewed Thursday. An employee at the Washington County Service Center told him it was a little hectic, but she was handling things in a professional manner.
Many of the critical services of the Washington County Community Services Department were included under the Human Services ruling by Judge Kathleen Gearin's order, said Daniel Papin, director of Washington County Community Services. Others that were not will be appealed in front of the Special Master.
One service that was not included in the judge's order was state-paid childcare assistance, which will impact 366 families in Washington County who currently receive benefits under the state program, Papin said.
Gearin acknowledged that defunding child-care assistance could “cause extreme hardship, force low-income parents to leave their jobs, and increase the amount of people on public assistance.” Nevertheless, the subsidies were not ruled to be an essential service.
Employment-related services were also excluded from the judge’s order.
Although unemployment insurance benefits will continue, Papin said, funding for the Dislocated Worker Program will not continue, nor will funding for employment services provided for participants in the Minnesota Family Investment Plan (MFIP).
Local GOP Reaction
At about 9 p.m. Thursday, Sen. Ted Lillie, in a newsletter, said Dayton “opted not to work in any meaningful way toward crafting bills he could sign” and insisted on tax increases and proposed a 12 percent increase in government spending.
“Please be assured, I understand many people will be hurt by a shutdown and am absolutely opposed to this drastic and unnecessary measure,” he said in the newsletter.
Other nuggets about the shutdown: the Woodbury Community Foundation is privately funded and will not be affected by the shutdown, Executive Director Alisa Rabin Bell told Patch. The R.H. Stafford Branch Library will also be unaffected, Manager Chad Lubbers said.
If you are affected by the shutdown, let Woodbury Patch know. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 651-269-2432.