News & Politics

Shutdown Cost Washington Millions, Officials Say

District leaders are still counting up how much money the city lost from the 16-day shutdown, and say some of the money will never be recouped.

The District government spent between $50,000 and $100,000 picking up trash at federal parks during the shutdown, and it doesn’t plan to ask for that money back, Mayor Vince Gray said today.
City officials are still counting just how badly the 16-day shutdown hurt Washington, and while the numbers are close to projections delivered a week ago, they are no less grim.
The Washington area in total lost about $400 million a week in total economic activity, between unpaid wages, lost consumer spending, and decreased tourism, said Victor Hoskins, the deputy mayor for planning and economic development. In DC alone, the economic hit totaled about $44 million a week during the shutdown, including $8 million per week in lost tax revenue.
Some of the lost money will be recouped when federal employees who are furloughed receive back pay, but many of the federal contractors who were also forced out of work by the shutdown won’t be so fortunate. But Gray said some of the money that DC lost can never be reclaimed.
“There is a significant impact on the city,” he told reporters. “We’ll never see that money again.”
The $144 million contingency fund that DC used to fund its operations through the shutdown has been replenished. City Administrator Allen Lew said DC would have used up its cash reserves entirely had the shutdown continued another two weeks.
If any good came of the shutdown, Gray said, it was that the American public became acquainted with the District’s complicated budget status. Congress has still not taken action on a referendum passed by DC voters in April that would claim permanent budget autonomy, and Gray and DC Attorney General Irv Nathan continue to question its legality.
As for the money spent on picking up trash at federal parks while the National Park Service was out of commission, Gray said the city would eat the cost as a matter of public health, even though House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa at one point suggested DC could be reimbursed.
“I’d rather say we were able to keep the city running,” Gray said.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.