October 2, 2013

Businesses, brewers, loan seekers among Maine’s affected

Thousands of workers are placed on furlough during the shutdown, and local businesses brace for the economic crunch.

By J. Craig Anderson canderson@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

and Kevin Miller kmiller@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Nathan Sanborn, co-owner of Rising Tide Brewery in Portland, says the budget stalemate may slow federal approval of some of his new beer labels and delay sales.

John Ewing/Staff Photographer

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“It’s unfortunate that we can’t operate as usual,” said Marcia Hartt, vice president of the Portland Regional Chamber. “There are so many lives and businesses that this impacts.”

Hartt said the shutdown would prevent U.S. Small Business Administration loans from being processed and create economic uncertainty that could hurt all types of business.

“I think that’s the thing that worries everyone: How long is this going to last?” she said.

The residential real estate market is almost sure to suffer in a prolonged shutdown, said Anthony Armstrong, owner of Portland-based Maine Home Mortgage Corp.

Many prospective buyers will not be able to get their mortgage loans processed until the federal government resumes its normal functions, said Armstrong, who is also a director of the Maine Association of Mortgage Professionals.

Consumers seeking U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development mortgages are likely to have the most difficulty because their loan applications most likely won’t be processed until the shutdown ends, he said.

Conventional and Federal Housing Administration loans should be affected less, Armstrong said, but it depends largely on how long the shutdown lasts.

“If it’s a short shutdown, the impact will be minimal, but if it’s an extended shutdown, the impact could be substantial,” he said.

Bart Stevens, president of the Maine Association of Realtors, said it is far too soon for real estate professionals in Maine to panic.

Consumers who already are in the process of buying homes should not face any difficulties, said Stevens, broker and owner at Century 21 Nason Realty in Winslow.

“It’s the people who are just beginning the process, those are the ones that are going to get hurt the most,” he said.

Maine’s military personnel are exempt from the shutdown, thanks to an eleventh-hour bill to protect military pay that Congress passed unanimously Monday.

And not all civilian federal workers in Maine were sent home because of the shutdown. More than 500 federal employees in the Aroostook County town of Limestone got word Tuesday that they will not be furloughed.

The Defense Finance and Accounting Service handles paychecks, reimbursements and retirement benefits for all military personnel, as well as civilian defense workers and retirees. Steve Burghardt, spokesman for the service, said the facility in Limestone was open for business Tuesday and no furloughs were planned.

The service is funded through fees collected from the agencies that use its billing and accounting services, not through year-to-year budget bills passed by Congress. A long-term shutdown could affect its revenues, however, and affect the agency.

Gov. Paul LePage said Tuesday that a short-term shutdown will not directly affect state government or public assistance programs.

The Republican governor said in a prepared statement that while some state government positions and programs are federally funded, they will continue as normal this week, The Associated Press reported.

He said the shutdown won’t affect school funding or state-run public assistance programs, but an extended shutdown could hurt some agencies.

LePage called the shutdown a “failure of leadership in Washington, D.C.”

J. Craig Anderson can be contacted at 719-6390 or at:canderson@pressherald.com@JCraigAndersonKevin Miller can be contacted at 317 6256 or at:kmiller@mainetoday.com
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