The sequester, the series of federal budget cuts that went into effect March 1, remains for many in this city a theoretical concept.

A recent tour through Baltimore suggests that officials who run programs affected by Washington’s across-the-board cuts are seeking ways to pare their budgets in ways that don’t directly affect services.

Among the approaches: trimming operating hours, asking existing workers to take on new duties, or hoping volunteers or donors will step up. And since many potential cuts have yet to take place, the real-world impact so far has been blunted.

Consider the approach of John Hoey, president of the Y of Central Maryland, which runs several federal programs for the region’s poor families.

Mr. Hoey is preparing for a $250,000, or 5%, cut to the Y’s budget for programs in Baltimore County, including the Head Start early-education program.