The pending federal government shutdown is estimated to cost taxpayers an estimated $21 million a day.
What isn’t included is the cost to businesses that rely on the government to make a living.
A partial shutdown, for instance, would force Everglades National Park to furlough 253 of its 293 employees, leaving only essential government employees on the job. Park law enforcement would inform the few straggling campers and patrol Florida Bay, which would be off limits to fishing.
“It’s not just the government employees who are affected,” park spokeswoman Linda Friar said. “It’s all the businesses who rely on these national parks” — hotels, restaurants, fishing guides, and canoe and kayak rental companies.
The Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge west of Boynton Beach, which gets about 100 visitors a day, also would be shuttered.
The last government shutdown in 1995-1996 cost local businesses $14 million per day, according to the Interior Department. The National Parks Conservation Association estimates in today’s dollars that loss would be $30 million.
Capt. Jim Hale of Florida Sport Fishing Charters in Miami said companies such as his could not afford to be idle on Florida Bay and would risk running into the few patrols out on the water.
“If they close the Flamingo ramp in Everglades National Park, charters would meet customers at another location,” he said. “They would divert and go to another launch ramp in Islamorada.”
Besides the national parks closing, other government services will be hit and mostly miss as an estimated 1 million employees will be furloughed. New Social Security applications will be delayed along with Internal Revenue Service audits.
Those wanting to get a new passport better hurry. The State Department has some funds outside the annual congressional appropriation to maintain operations during a partial government shutdown.
Lee Ann Bennet, clerk of court for the Middle District of Florida’s Bankruptcy Court, released a statement saying the courts will remain open — for now.
“In the event of a government shutdown on October 1, 2013, the federal judiciary will remain open for business for approximately 10 business days,” the statement read. “On or around October 15, 2013, the judiciary will reassess its situation and provide further guidance
Both the U.S. attorney’s office and the federal public defender’s office in Miami declined to comment about how a shutdown would affect them.
The Justice Department issued a lengthy contingency plan Friday predicated on what constitutes an essential employee.
“The department’s plan assumes that the judicial branch will continue to operate through the furlough,” the plan states. “Criminal litigation will continue without interruption as an activity essential to the safety of human life and the protection of property.”
Civil litigation, though, will be curtailed or postponed unless it meets a human life and property protection test.
The civil division would furlough 71 percent of its 1,310 employees if Congress and the White House do not agree on a way to continue funding the government by midnight tonight.
“People are trying to make a political point, and I’m trying to run a Justice Department,” Attorney General Eric Holder said at a news conference today. “This has real-world consequences for the employees of this department who have to pay mortgages, who have to pay car notes, who have to buy groceries.”
Holder also said he would reduce his salary.
“We are all in this together, and whatever pain they suffer I will share with them,” he said.
The Justice Departments instructed prosecutors to approach the courts and request active cases that don’t meet the test be postponed until funding is available.
Federal workers, such as prosecutors and public defenders, already have taken furlough days due to budget sequestration. The cuts took effect earlier this year after Democrats and Republicans couldn’t agree on cutting the deficit by $1.2 trillion over 10 years.