A story about the Manassas City budget in last week's Prince William Weekly gave incorrect information about a revenue shortfall in the state budget. The projected $150 million shortfall in revenue is for fiscal year 1990, which ended June 30. (Published 8/2/90)
On Monday, the Manassas City Council is expected to approve a freeze on hiring and capital spending in an effort to prepare for potential cuts in state funding to the city.
Earlier this month, Gov. L. Douglas Wilder warned that state funding to all localities may be cut an undetermined amount to offset $150 million in projected revenue shortfalls in the fiscal year that began July 1.
The governor has asked state agencies, through which most state funds come to localities, to prepare scenarios of how cuts of 1, 3 or 5 percent would affect their budgets. He is expected to reveal proposed cuts to the state Senate Finance Committee and House Appropriations Committee on Aug. 17.
Mayor John Weber, at the council's organizational meeting earlier this month, challenged city and school officials to come up with proposals for $2 million in spending cuts. That figure translates to about 4 percent of the city's $54.2 million budget.
The schools, which account for about 60 percent of the city's budget, were asked to plan for the largest cut -- about $1.2 million.
On Monday, the council's finance committee will recommend a freeze on hiring for vacant city staff positions and on small capital expenditures for city departments, such as office equipment and furniture, according to council member Maury Gerson, who is on the finance committee.
The freeze would not affect hiring for critical positions, such as police and fire and rescue. Nor would it affect major capital projects already underway, such as the police department's expansion or the city's new museum on Prince William Street.
Gerson said the freeze would save the city, which already has $200,000 in a reserve fund, an additional $600,000.
"When things get tight, you have to tighten your belt," Gerson said. "It's a lot easier doing it now than after you've spent the money."
The committee will also recommend that department heads study ways of cutting 5 percent of their operating budgets, but not any personnel-related spending, such as salaries and benefits.
Said Weber: "It's going to be pretty tough. There's not a lot of fat in the budget. It may hurt in construction and manpower."
Manassas school officials are still studying where $1.2 million in cuts could be made in their budget, according to Superintendent James Upperman.
"That's going to present quite a challenge for us," Upperman said. "We're talking a major cut. We're going to have to look at the whole budget."
Not filling 15 to 17 teaching positions could save up to $350,000, Upperman said. And those positions may not be needed anyway if the slowing regional economy brings fewer new students into the city than projected for the next school year, he said.
But that is "the largest chunk of money" identified so far," Upperman said. "There's quite a difference between that and $1.2 million."
Upperman is expected to recommend proposed cuts to the School Board by early next month.
In Manassas Park, city and school officials are waiting for the governor's announcement on Aug. 17 before they start marking up their budgets.
"I'm not even going to get into it until I see what comes down the pike," City Manager James Norlund said.
As in its neighboring city, Manassas Park schools may take the biggest blow if the state decides to cut educational funding. State funds account for roughly 50 percent of their budget.
"If they cut us, I don't know what in the world we can do," said Superintendent James Moyers. "We don't have anything we can cut . . . . We're bare bones already."