Federal government shutdown effects linger in Cumberland County


Federal workers are now back to work, but it's not business as usual.

Some of those furloughed Fort Bragg workers have only received partial pay for coming back to work last week. Money is still owed to local governments, and business has slowed for contractors.

There's no timeline on getting back to normal.

Inside downtown Fayetteville conference rooms, highly-skilled government workers receive training. They're linguists, mail servicers throughout the Middle East. Their paychecks depend on the federal government.

"The uncertainty of everything, not knowing what's going to happen, has put a damper on what we do," said the Vice President of Business Development for Worldwide Language Resources, Ron Haynes.

Haynes is a retired soldier.

The defense contractor employs 700 people, mostly based overseas, but Haynes is not sure what the near future holds, even with the government reopening, because during the shutdown solicitation and awarding contracts slowed down immensely.

"We don't know whether the government is going to shutdown one contract or another," said Haynes. "How many people we're going to hire. It's very uncertain and we don't want to spread that uncertainty to people's lives by hiring and promising them jobs."

"We're still in a hiring freeze and travel freeze," said Cumberland County Commissioner Chairman Jimmy Keefe.

As of Thursday, Cumberland County officials estimate they're owed in the $2 million range from the federal government for programs they initially front the money for and then wait on reimbursement.

Because of the shutdown, they still have not received September and partial-October reimbursement, and the community transportation program that fell casualty during the shutdown remains closed until word on funding comes down the pipeline.

"One thing I've learned from this whole federal shutdown and government antics that are going on, that's it's not a done deal until we get the check," said Haynes.

So the county says they'll remain conservative with spending until that expected money comes in.

All of this shows that the government reopening doesn't have a switch and light bulb effect. It's going to take time for funding and confidence to get back in order.

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