Businesses in Mariposa County start to feel impact of government shutdown

MARIPOSA COUNTY, Calif. -- Even during the slowest season, River Rock motel owner, Jill Ballinger says most of the rooms at the inn are usually booked.

With an ongoing government shutdown: however, she says that's not the case this year.

"We're usually busy in January. I'm about 80 percent full. This year we're at 40 percent. I looked at my past years and January and February were very busy for us. The only thing I can attribute it to the shutdown," Ballinger said.

The shutdown is going on it's 24th day, and nearby communities like Mariposa are feeling the hit.

"The most impact on this county is government shutdowns. They're more impact than fires and floods or any other recessions," said Mariposa County Supervisor Kevin Cann.

Cann said a huge chunk of paychecks in Mariposa County are some way connected to tourism dollars from the National Park.

He says shops and restaurants in the area suffer when employees aren't getting paid.

"Those bills are coming due, you don't have a paycheck. You're not going out to dinner," Cann said.

Daniel Levin is the owner of Yosemite Crystals, and just opened Agua Fria Café.

While he isn't too worried, he is noticing less people coming through town.

"We're seeing a lot of business not getting the usual flow. It's really not a good thing to have going on during the slow season," Levin said.

Others are trying to help keep the public informed as best they can.

"We are trying to fill in people on the information at the gates since there are no rangers there," said Jonathan Farrington with Yosemite Mariposa County Tourism Bureau.

Thousands of federal employees, including many in Yosemite, are furloughed.

One employee who asked to stay anonymous says some Aramark employees are being laid off.

Action News reached out to Aramark, and their response was that it's common for Yosemite hospitality to work with the park service while they quote "temporarily adjust our staffing levels to account for the time of year and business demand. "

From Ferguson fire closures in the summer to shutdowns in the winter, Ballinger says her employees are now working half the hours they'd normally work, and she hasn't been able to give more money to local youth programs.

"Many businesses here are still reeling from the effects in July, when we make our money to get through this piece. We don't have the reserves that we had last year and the year before," She said.

Ballinger is hoping for an end to the shutdown, so she and many other shop owners can go back to business as usual.

Cann says there are park employees that are volunteering at the county while they wait for the government to reopen.

He adds that there will definitely be a financial impact to the county, but they won't have an estimate until a few months from now.