By Michael Boyink
Here’s a rundown on how the ongoing Federal Government Shutdown is affecting Ava and Douglas County. We’ll update each week as the shutdown continues.
(Editor’s Note: The information below was accurate when we went to press, but could change at any moment.)
• SNAP (Foodstamps): Caution
If you receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program payments (historically known as foodstamps), be sure to check the balance on your EBT card. You should have already gotten your February Food Stamp benefit (a month early). You will need to budget your benefit to last through both January and February. The status of Food Stamp benefits past February is still unclear.
• Post Office: Open
The United States Post Office is an independent entity, not funded by tax dollars but rather by sales of products and services. It’s not impacted by a government shutdown and remains open with normal business hours.
• IRS Tax Filings: Slightly Delayed
Deana Parsick of the Tax Diva in Ava says, “We will begin filing returns on January 28th. The IRS says to expect refunds in 14 to 21 days as normal.”
• IRS Tax Audits: On Hold
Residents currently in the middle of or waiting for an IRS audit will have to wait. Parsick says, “The IRS Audit department is closed and not answering the phone.”
• Forestry Service: Closed
The Ava/Cassville/Willow Springs Ranger District of the Mark Twain National Forest is closed. The Ava facilities are gated shut. A sign posted on the gate read, “The U.S. Department of Agriculture office is currently closed, due to the lapse in federal government funding. The office will reopen once funding is restored.”
• WIC: Available
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) “still operating normally,” says Valerie Reese, Administrator, Douglas County Health Department.
• Low Income Housing Assistance: Available
“We’re still not currently affected,” says Karen Evans at the Ava City Housing Authority. “We do have a reserve to run on, but aren’t at that point yet.”
• FSA: Reopening
The United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency office in Ava is scheduled to reopen today, January 24th. The revised schedule was announced by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.
• Douglas County Soil and Water: Open
“Still open, come on in.” says District Conservationist Aaron Hoefer at the USDA Douglas County Soil & Water Conservation District / USDA Service Office in Ava.
• USDA Rural Development Loans: Not Available
The United States Department of Agriculture usually offers various loans through its Rural Development program. These are not currently available.
• FHA Loans: Available
The Federal Housing Authority offers government-backed mortgages that require lower minimum credit scores and down payments. FHA loans are being funded during the shutdown, but borrowers can expect delays.
• Douglas County Clerk: Open
“We’ve seen no impact yet,” says Douglas County Clerk Karry Davis.
•OATS Transit: Reduced Service
“We have instituted hourly service reductions in Douglas County; therefore, drivers for established routes in Douglas County were instructed to reduce their number of service hours for last week and again for this week,” says Jeff Robinson. “I expect the same for next week and most likely into February.”