How cuts would impact the area

Sequestration would impact fort, schools

By Bryan Richardson

Lack of Congressional action on the “sequester” by Friday would result in financial hits to several governmental entities here.

Should Congress not prevent the sequestration process from happening, it will involve a series of automatic spending reductions that would equate to $1.2 trillion in cuts nationally over 10 years.

The White House, which has rejected Republican calls for negotiation based on replacing the sequester with other budget cuts, released a document earlier this week contending that approximately $5.5 million would be lost in Kansas for primary and secondary education, putting around 80 jobs at risk and equating to about 7,000 fewer students being served and 40 fewer schools receiving funding.

The administration also estimates a $5.3 million reduction in funds for special education.

Gov. Sam Brownback says state agencies are trying to assess how much money may actually be at stake. The cuts would not go into effect until March 27, when the current continuing resolution on federal spending expires.

There is agreement that statewide the biggest impact would be felt at military installations, where civilian employees have been told of the potential for furloughs over 22 weeks starting in April. Estimates are the loss of wages could be close to $40 million statewide for active duty, Kansas National Guard and reserve forces.

Lew Faust, budget director for USD 383, said that district would lose $531,389 for fiscal year 2013 if the sequestration is carried out.

That total includes federal impact aid distributed into the general fund and capital outlay; various title funds, CLC grants and other federal funds; adult education; special education; career and technical education; and bond and interest. Faust said the state would have to pay the $11,480 in federal impact aid in the general fund in the final fiscal year aid payment since it is used to help supplement what the state is supposed to pay.

Impact aid is given based on the number of students that reside on government-owned property not subjected to property tax. Locally, that means Fort Riley.

Faust said the district’s debt service fund would take care of $95,383 in lost bond and interest federal funds. He said the district is in good shape to handle this, but added that “if that was to happen over an extended period of time, it could affect the levy with the bond and interest fund.”

The remaining $424,526 cut due to sequestration would involve making budget cuts, Faust said. This includes the $287,000 in federal funds that goes to things such as the various extended-day learning programs.

City manager Ron Fehr said the city likely wouldn’t see a lot of impact from sequestration due to generally not receiving a lot of federal funds. He said the federal highway and FAA grants that the city receives are exempt from sequestration.

Fehr said there may be other impacts on things such as TSA and other airport-related operations, depending on the direction the federal government takes.

“We’re hoping that isn’t the case,” he said. “We’re exploring if some of that happens what we might be able to do to make up for that.”

Brian McNulty, project manager at Tuttle Creek Lake with the Army Corps of Engineers, said he hasn’t even seen a budget yet due to the ongoing continuing resolution.

The Army Corps of Engineers is connected with the Department of Defense, which is where around half of the sequestration cuts would be made.

However, McNulty said the staff at Tuttle Creek has yet to hear much information. “I’m assuming there will be impacts, but I haven’t heard what they’d be,” he said.

According to White House estimates, Kansas would lose about $1.8 million in environmental funding this year as well as $772,000 in grants for fish and wildlife protection.

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