Fairfax City Mayor John Russell told City Council members that next year's budget must be scaled down to avoid a possible $2.2-million deficit.

Russell blamed the city's financial problem on "overly optimistic" projections by the former City Council. Just before last spring's election, Russell noted, the council voted to cut the real estate tax rate 9 cents, spent the city's $1.67 million surplus and estimated that future revenues would not be affected by the recession. Russell and four of the six other council members were elected this year.

Russell said a mid-year review indicates the city will be lucky if there is no deficit in its $24-million 1983 budget. Russell and the city's financial analysts project that fiscal 1984 revenues will not be as high as the former council expected and the cost of city services will increase 3 to 4 percent, which could result in a deficit as high as $2.2 million.

The city spends half its budget on services such as schools and health care that are contracted from Fairfax County, so it has little control over those costs. Russell said if there were a deficit, the city would consider cutting back on such services as police and fire protection and garbage collection.