Less than 24 hours remain before the political squabbling known as the sequestration budget cuts take effect in Washington.
While the arena might be hundreds of miles away, the lives of your neighbors, plus thousands of others throughout the Charleston region, could suddenly become much more difficult.
That includes more than 5,000 civilian Department of Defense workers, who would face furloughs and the loss of 20 percent of their pay for about 22 weeks. The unpaid days off would start in late April.
Some of what’s in the mix locally as part of the $85 billion in domestic and military cuts includes:
A new, $15.5 million armory in Summerville is the top building priority for the S.C. National Guard, but sequestration would delay that from happening, affecting the 1223rd Engineer Company and the 1118th Forward Support unit. Training for natural disasters, such as hurricanes, could be curtailed.
At least 675 Charleston families on a waiting list for low-income rental housing vouchers will be out of luck as Charleston’s Housing Authority says it can’t afford to allow new families into the program while the sequester cuts are in effect. North Charleston’s Housing Authority has dropped plans to issue vouchers to new clients.
The White House said the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control stands to lose $276,000, resulting in 6,900 fewer HIV tests. A DHEC spokesman said the department continues to operate under normal conditions until the cuts are confirmed.
Charleston Air Force Base
The total funding for Air Force operations in all of South Carolina would be cut by about $19 million, which probably isn’t overly harmful if the money is divided between Charleston and Shaw Air Force bases in Sumter.
Army Corps of Engineers
The corps is important across a number of areas, ranging from issuing permits in environmentally sensitive areas to constructing barracks at Fort Jackson and meeting the needs of government agencies.
Any sequestration-caused furloughs could limit review time, rippling a slow-down across the federal bureaucracy. The globally important Charleston Harbor deepening study may be delayed.
Charleston has more than 5,000 civilians working for the Department of Defense, or about one-half of the state’s total, along with Beaufort, Sumter and Columbia. Furloughs that eliminate one out of every five work days would take almost $60 million in income out of circulation.
Charleston International Airport is on a Federal Aviation Administration list of air traffic control centers that could be affected, with overnight shifts eliminated. The airport is not anticipating any interruption of air carrier service.
Federal officials have warned of delays and possible closings of smaller airports and air traffic control towers at airports that have fewer than 150,000 flight operations per year. Hilton Head and Myrtle Beach are among them.
Federal officials estimate the sequester could mean up to 270 fewer work-study jobs for students statewide. Locally, at the College of Charleston, about 120 students rely on income-based federal aid that gives them the chance to work on campus. If the sequester goes into effect, the college wouldn’t be able to offer up to eight of those jobs to students next year.
Most medical needs appear to be safe. A spokeswoman for the VA Medical Center said officials do not anticipate the Charleston hospital or its six satellite clinics will be affected by the cuts.
Districts statewide could see an immediate loss of federal impact aid, which is given to districts with large federal presences, such as military bases, that don’t pay property taxes. The three biggest districts in the Lowcountry would lose about $33,000 this year, which is not a substantial portion of their $680 million-plus combined operating budgets.
The bigger concern is whether federal funding for the 2013-14 school year would be affected.
Diette Courrégé Casey, David Slade, Warren Wise and Lauren Sausser contributed to this report.
budget Cuts Would hurt here
The cutbacks could result in 6,900 fewer HIV tests being conducted in the state.×
Waiting lists would be frozen at the Gadsden Green public housing in Charleston.×
Total funding for all Air Force operations in South Carolina would drop by about $19 million.×
Some good news — the cuts are not expected to affect the VA Medical Center in Charleston or its six satellite clinics.×