AUGUSTA — When Maine lawmakers get close to reaching an agreement on the state’s spending plan for the next two years, Peter McCarthy will be among the first to know.

McCarthy is the president of The Copy Center, which has contracts with the state for its printing, including the budget amendment.

On Wednesday, McCarthy said he had thought he was going to be printing the document, but it was a false alarm.

Now The Copy Center is just one of the businesses across the region that is hoping it won’t take a big hit if there’s a shutdown and it loses revenue from state government contracts or discretionary spending by state employees.

On Wednesday, Gov. Paul LePage said he believed a shutdown is likely at the end of the current fiscal year at midnight Friday. As of midweek, state legislators were unable to reach an agreement on a state spending plan. Lawmakers are deadlocked over education spending, and whether to repeal a 3 percent surcharge on household income over $200,000 imposed by a statewide vote last November.

Business owners and managers say they could weather a shutdown of nonessential state services that lasts a couple of days, but anything beyond that could cause hardship for the businesses and their employees.

Ryan Hill, general manager of Bay Wrap Augusta, said this week that even though it’s the start of the busy summer season for the restaurant he runs near the State House, he’s considering scaling back to winter staffing.

“Everyone will still get hours,” Hill said. “It’s a small staff. But rather than 30 to 35 hours, we’ll be looking at 15 to 20 hours.”

Hill, who has worked at Bay Wrap in Augusta for two years, estimated that more than half the people who come through the door every day are state workers, and most of them commute to the state capital daily.

“Being a small business this close to the State House, we get to know a lot of the state workers and legislators,” Hill said. “The biggest fear is having a week with no salary.”

Some customers are starting to scale back on what they order, choosing options that cost less.

“I have a lawyer who works for the state who comes in regularly,” he said. “She said she’s ordering a regular brew instead of a soy latte. It’s going to hurt everyone.”

If the shutdown lasts longer, the effects will be more severe.

Brian Olas is the sales representative for W.B. Mason, the Massachusetts-based office supply company that has an office in Augusta.

“We take care of the office supplies across all of state government,” Olas said Wednesday.

That’s everything from office furniture for state offices to janitorial supplies for restrooms at Baxter State Park. Maine state government is among W.B. Mason’s largest customers in the state.

A extended period of 12,000 state employees not using, needing or paying for what W.B. Mason sells could have an enormous effect on the company and its employees, Olas said. The company’s delivery drivers would feel the biggest impact. If the hourly workers are not making deliveries, they could be redeployed to do other things, or they could be working fewer hours.

“They’ll see a huge loss,” he said.

Jessica Lowell can be contacted at 621-5632 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: JLowellKJ

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