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Local News

March 22, 2013

Sequester no factor for local public safety

CENTERVILLE — The federal government's budget sequester cuts of $85 billion this year and $1.2 trillion over 10 years will not mean much, locally. Perhaps?

Centerville Police Chief Tom Demry and Centerville Fire Chief Mike Bogle said they don't for see any issues with their departments.

"So, as of right now, the sequester won't affect, I would say, any public safety at all," Demry said. "Not locally."

Bogle said the sequester will not affect his department.

For the sequester to impact locally, it would be because federal grants aren't being handed out.

Demry said the federal grants his department had have run out and are done. Bogle said federal grants for the fire department require local match money, which is in short supply.

"I guess as a whole for the city of Centerville, I don't think that we will even notice it," Demry said. "On the public safety side."

The perhaps comes into play with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Rathbun Lake in northern Appanoose County.

The Department of Defense and Army need to find $42 billion in budget cuts. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Rathbun Lake is part of the Army's civilian side.

Phil Brown, Rathbun Lake operations manager for the Corps, said at one point employee furloughs of one day a week for 22 weeks to start sometime in mid-April was being considered but has since been put on hold.

Brown said the way the Department of Defense and Army approach the cuts will determine if the cuts will reach locally here in Appanoose County.

"I have no idea of what, where the hurt will go and if it will filter down all of the way to the civilian side," Brown said. "Will it leave the military side and come into the civilian sector? I would presume so, but we haven't been feeling any pain just yet."

Brown said he has already or will be awarding service contracts for the upcoming summer season. He said he plans to proceed with business as usual this year, expects everything to be open and for the most part the public will not notice any changes.

But the specter or furloughs and cuts can't be ruled out.

"There's still uncertainty because I don't think we're quote unquote out of the water yet," Brown said. "A lot of unknowns. A lot of uncertainties."

In the year 2013, the sequester is expected to cut $42.7 billion in defense, $28.7 billion in domestic discretionary spending, $9.9 billion in Medicare and $4 billion in other mandatory cuts.

The Obama administration predicts education, small businesses, food safety, research and development, mental health, federal law enforcement, justice department, emergency management, health, science, food and drug departments, economic development, international trade, government services, the IRS, workplace safety, Native American programs, Social Security, senior meals, nutrition assistance, rental assistance, emergency unemployment compensation, homeless programs, substance abuse services, AIDS and HIV treatment and prevention are all in jeopardy because of the sequester.

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The Iowegian wants readers to think about food prices. Are you paying more than you were last year for certain food items? According to a survey by the American Farm Bureau Federation, "the cost of 16 food items" increased by 3.5 over 2013, as reported by the Des Moines Register. So, the question of the week is, "Are you feeling the food price increase pinch?"

A. Yes, and it hurts.
B. No, I don't feel a thing.
C. Not sure.
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