SCRANTON, Pa. -- If the federal government shutdown goes on much longer, it could start to affect some local services that are supported by federal funds.
Lackawanna County is putting up some of its own money to help out.
The County of Lackawanna Transit System (COLTS) is one of those agencies that may not be directly affected by the government shutdown right now, but officials are starting to feel the pinch as we get closer to February.
Lackawanna County commissioners have a backup plan for COLTS and one other agency which is county run but federally funded.
As the government shutdown inches toward February, officials for agencies like COLTS and Lackawanna County Housing Authority are getting nervous. Both receive federal funds to help them operate.
Pat Padula from the housing authority says rents are covered through February, but they have no idea what could happen after that.
"Where our concern is is the beginning of March. Our communication has ceased with our Housing and Urban Development officials down in Philadelphia, so we lost that communication back and forth during the shutdown," said Padula.
Lackawanna County commissioners are willing to help those agencies cover their payroll costs as the shutdown continues, offering up a combined $500,000 a month to COLTS and the housing authority, paid for using the county's fund balance.
"We have a stable financial situation and that allows us to make sure our employees are being paid," said Lackawanna County Commissioner Laureen Cummings.
COLTS receives about $2.5 million from Washington each year. Those funds haven't been coming in since the shutdown started.
The county's offer means COLTS and the housing authority would have an easier time covering bills.
"This will definitely come into play to help us over the next several months. Hopefully, it won't be that long," said Bob Fiume, COLTS executive director. "It's a relief. It gives us some breathing room, but we still have to tighten our belts and tighten our expenditures very closely because we don't know how long it's going to last."
If Lackawanna County ends up covering payroll costs for a month or more, the hope is that they would eventually be refunded that money when the federal government opens up again.