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Local News

February 25, 2013

Local officials uncertain of cuts impact

Area officials whose organizations might be affected by possible Washington budget cuts said they were largely uncertain about the impact.

Lawmakers have until Friday to avert $85 billion in mandatory across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration. The cuts are evenly divided between defense and non-defense programs.

This area won’t initially be as affected as others with a higher concentration of government jobs, said Karl Seeley, Hartwick College associate economics professor. Some local defense work might be affected but a lot will depend on how long before the issue is solved, he said.

A lot of the impact will be determined by how the state copes with the cut of federal funds to a variety of programs, Seeley said. The government in Albany will have some discretion in the situation, he said.

If the cuts throw the country into a recession, Seeley said, the impact to the area would be wider, possibly affecting college decisions and tourism.

The New York State Association of Counties said in a recent media release that while the impact on counties cannot be determined, federal estimates assume the statewide impact would be a loss of $700 million in federal aid. Little goes into county budgets, but across-the-board reductions could affect programs that counties administer for the state and state and federal government. Some of these may include public health and environmental grants, clean water and sewer revolving loan funds, transportation aid and homeland security grant funds.

Otsego County Department of Social Services Deputy Commissioner Eve Bouboulis said because the actual impact can’t be determined at this point, “we’re hopeful that a reasonable solution is found.” The heating assistance program and child care funding are two examples of programs that could be impacted. “They are really needed in this county,” she said.

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