Shutdown effects on Kauai uncertain

LIHUE — The federal government shutdown would affect Kauai in many ways although the primary federal agencies here, Civil Defense and the airport would continue operating.

State and county services including public safety would not be affected except behind the scenes where ongoing federal interaction would cease in the interim, authorities said.

But if the shutdown stretches on for months, those effects would have to play out down the line, they said. In the meantime, some agencies said they’re not sure how much it will trickle down their way.

Kauai County spokeswoman Mary Daubert said it was too early to say exactly how a partial federal government shutdown would impact county operations in the near term.

“At this point, the only known effects would be a lapse in grant funding received by the Fire Department and a decrease in the county’s bond subsidy,” she wrote in an email. “A longer federal shutdown will likely impact federally funded programs that are managed by the Agency on Elderly Affairs and Housing and Transportation agencies. It also has the potential to slow down county projects and/or impair county services.”

The U.S. Postal Service will continue to operate as normal, so mail delivery in Kauai will go on as normal.

“The Postal Service operations will not be impacted by a federal shutdown,” said Duke Gonzales, spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service in Honolulu. “It will be business as usual for us. All offices will be open and mail deliveries will continue  — shutdown or no shutdown.”

The Navy should also be functioning normally for military and civilian personnel.

Matthew Diendorf, public affairs officer at Pacific Missile Range Facility, said the Department of Defense can support specific military operations that the Secretary of Defense has approved. PMRF can also maintain its police, fire, and emergency medical services.

“PMRF employs roughly 130 government service employees,” Diendorf said. “A handful of these employees considered to be in mission-critical duties may not be subject to the furlough based on the nature of their jobs, such as base security.”

Civilians on emergency furloughs would be paid retroactively only if a law is enacted providing authority to pay them, Diendorf said.

“PMRF’s contractors are not affected by a government shutdown,” he said. “Since they are the bulk of PMRF’s workforce, range operations and support for fleet training would continue as scheduled.”

U.S. Coast Guard Sector Honolulu spokesman Lt. Kevin Cooper, said the ability to meet the highest-priority mission activities, including search and rescue, critical security operations, and emergency response would be preserved on Kauai and all across Hawaii.

U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI), who voted Monday to stop the shutdown, called it a manufactured crisis over Obamacare that only shows the American people how far some are willing to go with an anti-compromise ideology. She said it could hurt Hawaii’s bread-and-butter industry — tourism.

Passport issuance, among other things, is one thing that could slow hold during the ordeal.

“Hawaii’s visitor industry could also faces harm since a long-term shutdown could prevent the State Department from approving new tourist visas,” Hirono said.

All 368 national park facilities and services would be closed, too.

There are seven National Park Service sites in Hawaii, including USS Arizona, Haleakala, Volcanoes, Puuhonua O Honaunau, Puukohola Heiau, Kaloko Honokohau and Kalaupapa. The Kauai National Wildlife Complex includes Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, with the Daniel K. Inouye Kilauea Point Lighthous; the Hanalei NWR and Huliea NWR that are not parks but will be closed for the duration of the federal government shutdown.

Applications for gun permits could be delayed because processing them would most likely not be considered an essential function for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

• Tom LaVenture, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0424 or by emailing tlaventure@thegardenisland.com.

Adds information about the Kauai National Wildlife Complex, that is ran by the Department of the Interior, and although not national parks, they will be closed for the duration of the federal government shutdown.

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