Glendale senior meals

Food server Susanna Leos serves dinners to guests who have a ticket at the Adult Recreation Center in Glendale. (Tim Berger / Staff Photographer / May 2, 2012)

From senior meals to code enforcement, several local public services will be affected by the $85 billion in automatic federal spending cuts that took effect last week.

Just how severe the impact of so-called sequestration will be, however, remains to be seen.

That’s because information from the federal agencies that fund the programs, such as the Department of Housing and Urban Development, could take 30 more days to hit the local level.

“We’re just waiting,” said Moises Carillo, Glendale’s community development supervisor.

During the 2011 debate over the debt limit, Congress and the White House agreed on the cuts, known as sequestration, expecting to compromise over more palatable spending plans by Friday. That didn’t happen, initiating a flurry of finger pointing and dire warnings of impending impacts to everything from airport security to public health programs.

Despite discussions on Capitol Hill on how to reach a spending agreement, service providers are planning for the worst.

For now, Carillo estimates a 5.1% cut to federal grants promised to organizations such as the Armenian Relief Society of Western USA and Ascencia, Glendale’s largest homeless services nonprofit, this fiscal year.

But how much money may be withheld from each organization is unknown.

“It’s all going to be individual, on a one-by-one basis,” he said.

The uncertainty is almost worse than the looming cuts, said Ascencia Executive Director Natalie Profant Komuro.

“It’s very disturbing that [members of Congress] couldn’t figure out a way to solve this problem,” she said.

It’s not just nonprofits that receive federal Community Development Block Grants that will be impacted by the across-the-board defense and domestic spending reductions. City programs, such as code enforcement, are also heavily funded by federal money.

So are senior meals at the Adult Recreation Center, Sparr Heights Community Center and delivered to home-bound seniors.

There’s already a daily waiting list for meals at the Adult Recreation Center as Glendale’s population continues to gray.

This year, the city was awarded an annual $225,000 grant through 2016 to pay for senior meals, but it may be slashed 5% every year.

“We have more seniors than we’ve ever had before, and we are cutting necessary and vital programs for their health and independence, said Maggie Kavarian, who supervises senior meal program.

Still, for some other groups — such as the Verdugo Jobs Center, which also expects a 5%, or $130,000, cut — the impact isn’t expected to be too harsh.

“We can absorb that amount of cut,” Don Nakamoto said, executive director of the Verdugo Workforce Investment Board, which oversees the center.

The organization, which offers career training programs and job assistance, had already budgeted for deep federal cuts due to the uncertainty over the outcome of the 2012 election.

Budgeting in a cushion for federal cuts is the way of the future, Nakamoto said.

“We’re just kind of anticipating that the trend will continue,” he said.

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