MOSCOW, Idaho – For Dworshak State Park ranger Andrew Singer, the partial shutdown of the federal government could not have come at a worse time.
Singer, a U.S. Coast Guard veteran, and his wife, Allison, live in Lewiston and are in the process of buying a home in Troy. The couple are also expecting their first child to be born in the next few weeks.
While Singer, who manages a campground, does patrols on land and water, assists visitors and helps with emergency response, has been exempted from furloughs due to the shutdown so far, he said he expects be furloughed this week.
“It’s rather unfortunate timing,” Singer said. “It’s a bit nerve-wracking, frustrating.”
Singer said he and his wife have been smart about their finances and will just have to minimize big purchases or pull from other resources until the shutdown is over. Luckily, Singer said, he and his wife have almost completed the home purchase and are using a Department of Veterans Affairs loan, which is user-funded rather than tax-funded.
“We’re thinking that will be OK, but there could be some obstacles there as far as getting some paperwork together,” Singer said.
Jim Fazio, owner of Northwest Showcase in Moscow, knows the story. Because of the shutdown, Fazio has thousands of dollars worth of product orders on hold for Smokey Bear and fire prevention products that he orders from federal agencies.
“We can’t fill those, we can’t ship them off, so it is hurting our business,” Fazio said.
Fazio said he was also told by the U.S. Forest Service on Monday that Northwest Showcase can’t sell firewood permits during the shutdown.
“I personally don’t see the connection myself, because it doesn’t entail any work or effort on any employees’ part. We sell the permit, and people go get the firewood and once or twice a year we send money to the Forest Service,” Fazio said. “It’s just almost a comical annoyance.”
Brett Travis, a University of Idaho student and lance corporal in the Marine Corps Reserves, said he had to ask his rental company to waive late rent fees this month as a result of the shutdown. In an email to Palouse Properties, Travis stated he uses his drill pay and education bill pay to cover his rent each month and just received word he won’t be receiving either until further notice.
Karl Johnson, owner of Palouse Properties, said he spoke with Travis on the phone and the company is considering his request. So far, Johnson said, Travis’ request has been the only one of its kind in regard to the shutdown.
“If we started receiving hundreds, I guess the answer would have to be no, we can’t do that … the city won’t say you don’t have to pay your water bill because of this,” Johnson said.