The Crossett mayor said he’s asked department heads to freeze spending in light of the Georgia–Pacific news that hit last week.
“Even if it’s in the budget, I told them to not buy anything we don’t have to have and watch their spending,” Mayor Scott McCormick said Thursday afternoon. He said it’s important for the town to stay positive, but he also wants to take the proper precautions and be very frugal during this time.
“We’ve been through this before, and we will get through it again,” McCormick said referring to the Plywood Mill closing in 2012.
He added that though they didn’t have to lay off any city employees after the plywood mill laid off approximately 750 workers in 2012, the city was hit pretty hard. Which was tough, McCormick said, considering the city was still feeling the effects of the national recession.
“For whatever reason Crossett wasn’t effected by the 2008 crisis until 2010; it didn’t really hit us until then and we hadn’t recovered by 2012,” McCormick said, adding that it was hard to tell how much of the financial struggle then was caused by the mill closing and how much was simply because the nation’s economy was struggling as well.
The Plywood closure reportedly affected Crossett and the surrounding areas. McCormick said even though a number of the Plywood employees were able to transfer into other parts of the mill to avoid leaving the city to look for employment, Crossett was still hurting.
“We had four or five small businesses close pretty quick and during that time we went from three car dealer ships to one.” McCormick said. “Our tax base was hurt, but we lived through it.”
McCormick said, this time the city is in a much better place financially, which may soften some of the impact.
“We were now just getting back to where we could breathe and we were able to give our employees raises recently,” McCormick said. “Things are not near as tight as they were in 2012.”
The 2020 census was a concern for the mayor and he said that before the announcement he expected the numbers to down from 2010’s approximately 5,034.
He said the city had been frugal waiting to see what the 2020 census would bring and now there is even more cause for concern.
“At that last census a lot of people had moved out of the city and into the county and that really hurt us,” McCormick said.
He added that though there are a lot of uncertainties, he believes if everyone will remain positive, Crossett can pull through this just as they did when the Plywood Mill shut down.
“While this is a scary time, I believe Crossett will be okay because Crossett is kind of an amazing place, we may gripe and complain about the small stuff, but when the big stuff happens we all come together,” he said.