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Shutdown Has Little Impact On Westchester In Day 1

Post offices throughout Westchester County will remain open during the government shutdown for both mail services and passport applications.
Post offices throughout Westchester County will remain open during the government shutdown for both mail services and passport applications. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- While Congress continues to fight over spending plans in Washington, the shutdown of the federal government had minimal impact on Westchester County services and residents in its first day on Tuesday.

"Fortunately, there is no immediate effect on the county," said Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino. "From a cash flow standpoint, the county has the money to pay its bills. Federal funds for food stamps and other social services for October are already in place. Our federal transportation money is also in place. County government is up, running and fully open."

Many federal operations in Westchester County will still be in effect. Mail will still be delivered, Social Security checks will be issued and Medicare will continue. The County Clerk's office will continue to accept passport applications, and the federal courthouse in White Plains will be open as usual.

The shutdown will have no effect on the operations of the Westchester County Airport, according to county spokesperson Diana Costello.

The county's Veterans Service Agency will also operate business as usual. Costello said that if the shutdown drags on, it could take longer for decisions on claims to be made, but that remains to be seen.

All national parks and national historic sites are closed to visitors during the shutdown. Westchester County's lone National Historic Site, St. Paul's Church, closed Tuesday. Other notable spots in New York that will remain closed include the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the FDR Homestead in Hyde Park.

John Ravitz, the executive vice president of the Business Council of Westchester, said that the shutdown had not had any immediate impact on businesses in the county on Tuesday.

"Obviously if it continues beyond the next couple days, there could be different connotations in terms of what it does to the market and investors' confidence," Ravitz said.

With the debt ceiling deadline approaching on Oct. 17, he said that it is imperative that Congress work quickly to resolve its issues.

"I think if they want to create stability and confidence in the economy, the leaders in Washington need to work together."

The Business Council of Westchester is also serving as a navigator to help businesses comply with the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

"The shutdown doesn't help people feel confident about the Affordable Care Act," said Ravitz, who is the point person for the healthcare outreach initiative.

However, as the ACA went into effect, Ravitz said that the BCW has received many calls from businesses, looking to set up appointments to learn how they can understand the law and come into compliance with the law.

Some Westchester residents are still wary about the effect the shutdown could have on their families.

Karen Ilardi-Javier of Yonkers is hoping the shutdown won't cause any financial stress for her family with her husband Vick away in the service.

"This affects us as a family," Ilardi-Javier said. "Vick is active duty at work at Stewart Air Force Base. He was told he might not get paid if there is a shutdown. Well, let's see."

Brian Dunne of Hastings is stationed with the U.S. Navy in Bahrain.

"They tried it last year but the Navy Federal Credit Union paid all its members on time and the government paid the bank back," Dunne said. "So, I don't know what's going to happen this time around. Me and my friends here in Bahrain would love to get our paycheck."

Danny LoPriore also contributed to this story.

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