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South Bend mayor lays out local effects of government shutdown

SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg said city government’s frustration level is growing as the partial government shutdown continues, because every part of the city government is ‘touched in some way by this.’

Buttigieg and department heads met on Wednesday morning and spoke about the effects of the government shut down, according to a city official. Buttigieg said the city’s stance is bottom line that Washington D.C. needs ‘to get together’ so the city can keep doing their job well.

“They could re-open the government today and then debate all of the things they’re arguing over,” he said. “Instead of this kind of hostage tactic the White House has taken that’s making us worse off at home.”

The partial government shutdown has been in effect for almost three weeks. Buttigieg said in South Bend, the effects of the shutdown are felt by regular people and local agencies including:

-        South Bend Public Transportation Corporation (Transpo)

-        South Bend Housing Authority

-        South Bend Venues, Parks, and Arts

-        Department of Public Works

-        South Bend International Airport TSA

-        Residents using SNAP, EBT, or WIC

-        Residents receiving benefits through Social Security

‘Transpo’ needs federal funds

“There are even some concerns that transpo, which is supposed to take a delivery of new buses this week,” Buttigieg said. “May not be able to do that.”

Amy Hill, Transpo CEO, wrote the following statement to ABC 57:

“Our biggest challenge is the fact we do not have access to any of our federal grant funding during the shutdown. This includes federal funding for operating assistance and capital purchases such as new vehicles. We have new paratransit vans scheduled to be delivered in the upcoming weeks and will not have access to the federal funds that cover 80% of the purchase price.

At this time, it is not impacting our daily service, but longer term there certainly could be some additional issues.”

$200 million sewer negotiations with EPA

“We are in the middle of negotiations with the EPA,” said Buttigieg. “Worth hundreds of millions of dollars, but there’s nobody over there to negotiate with.”

The EPA ordered $500 million in changes to the city’s sewer system as part of the Clean Water Act. The Department of Public Works said they are working on lowering that number to $200 million.

A spokesperson for the department said right now they are not seeing an immediate effect from the shutdown. The department is in the process of creating a submission for the $200 million Clean Water Act sewer update.

The department spokesperson said once that is sent in a couple of weeks, and if the government is still under a partial shutdown, there could be a delay for a response from the EPA.

South Bend stepping up to the plate

“Y’all need to open it up so we can get our business going on,” said Jan Bailey, who lives in South Bend. “So y’all can help more people like us with these jobs and stuff.”

Bailey said she is missing out on social security benefits because of the shutdown. Buttigieg said if this continues for a couple more weeks, then the community will need to come together in order to help those left vulnerable.

“We’re going to have to come together to help everything from maybe missing out on government benefits to jobs that may began to not get done because people just can’t afford to keep going to work and not getting paid,” Buttigieg said.

He added that the U.S. Conference of Mayors will be in Washington D.C. next week to send a message that ‘all American cities will do whatever it takes to press the White House and Congress to get their act together.’

 

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