City of Crossett prepares for projected $300K shortfall caused by the coronavirus pandemic

Arkansas News

CROSSETT, Ark. (05/20/20) — Some city governments have already been hit hard by the effects of the coronavirus and other are preparing for the budget threat.

While the city of Crossett isn’t seeing much impact just yet, they are working to address a potential financial crisis. The city has worked in partnership with the governor’s office and the Arkansas Municipal League to make projections on their fiscal impact.

“We project an approximate $300,000 shortfall to the 2020 budget,” Interim Mayor of Crossett, Crystal Marshall said.

The two most important revenue streams for the city comes from sales and fuel taxes. The municipal league provided the city with percentage declines from those taxes and from there the city applied that to their budgeted numbers.

That’s when the city along with its accountant, Clark Terrell, sat down with department heads to look at what the city could change in its budget. However, they are being very careful when talking about potential cuts.

“Absolutely no plan to layoff employees or doing any furloughs,” Marshall said. “We are striving to stay in front of this to be able to take care of our employees and take care of our citizens.”

Instead, they city is planning to put a pause on all capital expenditures and planned upgrades until the next fiscal next year.

Marshall mentioned that demolishing nuisance property and abandoned buildings would be put on hold because it costs a substantial amount of money.

Also included in the budget was a new parks and recreation truck, a garbage truck and various other things that she says are important but can wait.

The city also plans on combining roles. Instead of hiring new employees for vacant positions, some workers will just take on additional tasks.

With changes like some of these and more already being made, Marshall said the future doesn’t seem unfavorable.

“We’ve mitigated close to the entirety of the projected shortfall,” she said.

While this is just a projection, city leaders are working together and with the state government to monitor the Covid-19 situation.

“It’s quite possible there will be much less impact,” Marshall said. “It will just be a process that will have to play out and we just have to stay on top of that for the entirety of Covid19.”

“We are doing everything that we can to keep us protected from an economic standpoint and also a health standpoint.”

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