Prince William County

The following were among actions taken at the Dec. 11 meeting of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors. For more information, call 335-6600.

COUNTY HIRING FREEZE -- County Executive James H. Mullen announced that hiring for all nonessential county government positions has been frozen to help offset anticipated revenue shortfalls next fiscal year. Mullen also told board members that, among other cost-cutting measures, they may need to eliminate cost-of-living increases for the county government employees next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

County officials estimate that revenues for next year's budget may fall about $12 million short of what's needed for an estimated $160 million budget. The board will start working on next year's budget later this winter.

Of the county's 2,500 positions, 204 are currently vacant. However, some of those positions -- about 20 -- are for essential positions, such as fire and rescue workers and police officers, and will not be affected by the hiring freeze.

A county official said the freeze, which will remain in place at least until next spring when the board formally adopts the fiscal 1992 budget, could save the county about $2 million by July.

Mullen said that, depending on the state of the economy, the county may need to continue the freeze beyond this spring and eliminate cost-of-living increases in fiscal 1992. County employees last July received 3 percent cost-of-living increases, which are funded under the current $153.8 million budget. Each cost-of-living percentage point costs the county at least $800,000, a county official said.

INVESTMENT -- The board accepted a $2 million settlement from a New York brokerage that handled a high-risk investment that cost the county $1.05 million.

The $2 million will cover the county's losses and legal fees in its suit against the firm, County NatWest Government Securities Inc., according to County Attorney Sharon Pandack. The county claimed $16 million in its suit against the firm.

The loss came in 1987 when a mid-level county employee approved a high-risk transaction, which involved selling long-term securities and repurchasing them later at a set price. When the county repurchased the securities, which can fluctuate, it suffered a $1.05 million loss.

Neither the county nor the brokerage firm ever admitted wrongdoing. However, a state official said the transaction may have been illegal and that the county's finance director, E. Barret Atwood, and the employee who approved the transaction, Ronald Tucker, may be liable. Both Atwood and Tucker resigned this fall. Pandack said the county does not plan to take any action against them.

ASSISTANT COUNTY EXECUTIVE -- County Executive James H. Mullen announced the appointment of Deputy County Executive Lawrence A. Hughes to the newly created assistant county executive position.

In an effort to streamline county government, Mullen said in October that he planned to combine the two deputy county executive positions into the assistant county position. The other deputy county executive, Connie Bawcum, resigned several weeks after that annoucement.

Hughes, who has been with the county since 1985, will receive $84,700, the same annual salary he now receives.