Local FBI, National Lakeshore feeling the sequester now
By Teresa Auch Schultz email@example.com March 9, 2013 3:02PM
Updated: April 11, 2013 6:50AM
Northwest Indiana continues to feel the hit from the federal sequester, this time in the local FBI office and the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
All FBI employees will have to take up to 14 furlough days from late April through the end of September, Supervisory Special Agent Bob Ramsey said.
He said that rule will apply to everyone at the Merrillville office.
Ramsey said no one has told him just how much the local FBI office’s budget will lose from the sequester but that the overall FBI budget will be cut by $550 million.
“The impact to our budget is pretty significant,” Ramsey said. “You’re looking at finding hundreds of millions of dollars throughout the bureau.”
No one has yet mentioned layoffs, he said, and Ramsey has been instructed to focus on making any cuts in nonpersonnel areas.
However, even that can make it harder for the FBI to fight crime as the money will instead have to come from areas such as payments for sources and expert witnesses, task forces and local law enforcement agencies’ work.
The federal government recently approved about $450,000 in cuts to the National Lakeshore, spokesman Bruce Rowe said.
The park has managed to make that cut without furloughing any employee or reducing its seasonal staff, Rowe said.
“That will help a lot,” he said.
Instead, the park is cutting most of that amount by reducing purchases of supplies and equipment, such as several new mowers.
The agency also will not fill a new position it had budgeted $75,000 for and will delay an environmental assessment of the east branch of the Little Calumet River. The assessment is needed to open up the river to canoes and kayaks someday.
Rowe said the biggest change visitors will see is that an area of the Duneland Campground people had to walk to camp in will be closed this year. Rowe said it’s the least used area of the campground and also provides the most problems, as teenagers like to drink there at night.
The other two areas of the campground, where RVs and vehicles can park, will remain open.
The National Lakeshore also has decided not to print events calendars this year and will print fewer maps, Rowe said.