ISO: Council Member to Fill Big Void

Wanted: Qualified person to replace 11-year veteran of Manassas City Council. Appointee must be city resident, able to fill big shoes.

With the swearing-in Monday of John P. Grzejka to his new position as commissioner of revenue, Manassas began searching for a new council member to serve the remaining year of his term. The hunt promises to be closely watched and competitive, featuring some of the hopefuls who applied to replace Republican Douglas S. Waldron, who resigned earlier this year and was replaced by Judith S. Hays (R).

Grzejka, a popular fiscal conservative, has been in city government for 21 years and was the leading vote-getter in his two most recent council elections. His biggest contribution, he said yesterday, has been in handling city finances, most recently as chairman of the council's Finance Committee for the last three years.

Grzejka's work as the first chairman of the Economic Development Committee, from 1992 to 1996, helped pave the way for Dominion Semiconductor to open in 1997. Before he joined the council, Grzejka spent five years as Manassas treasurer and another five with the city's Finance Office.

Grzejka said yesterday that he feels he's leaving the city "in strong financial shape" and promised that as revenue commissioner, "I'm not going to be very far away from the action." He said he is also proud of the council's efforts in the last decade to better city schools and recreation spaces.

Three people who tried unsuccessfully for Waldron's seat have been sniffing out the new one, said Mayor Marvin L. Gillum (R). Gillum declined to give specifics.

The city's advertisements for the position, which will run later this week, sets the application deadline for July 7. At least one public hearing will follow, giving candidates a chance to argue their cases.

Grzejka leaves two substantial voids in the city to be filled by other council members: the vice mayorship, which is elected by the council as a whole; and the stewardship of the Finance Committee, which must be appointed by the mayor.

At Monday's special City Council meeting, Grzejka sat in the audience and saw things from the other side of the table. With two other council members absent from the meeting, the three left seemed struck by their own small size.

Council member J. Steven Randolph (I) said, "I declare a moratorium on anyone else leaving the council."

New Office, New Headaches

As one chapter closes, another begins.

As Grzejka leaves the council, he inherits an office plagued by computer-related problems. On Monday, the City Council agreed to postpone the deadline for paying personal property taxes by two months after Grzejka plainly endorsed the move in his new capacity as commissioner of revenue.

"If there was any way we could move [the deadline] sooner than Dec. 5, I would come before you and tell you that," Grzejka told council members after a day spent familiarizing himself with the issue. "But I can't see that happening."

Instead of personal property taxes and car decal fees being due Nov. 5, as they were supposed to this year, Grzejka said his office will just be sending out billings around then. The decal fees are being bundled with personal property taxes for the first time this year.

The city has said that the delay is because the software company, HTE Inc., was slow in sending car decal software this spring and because staff have been busy entering data that would already be in the system if not for other complications with HTE.