Promoting diversity, pride and civility is among the goals the City Council has set for Manassas as it heads into the next millennium.

In a series of planning sessions to set goals and objectives for Manassas, council members met Monday evening to outline a vision for the city that they hope will instill a sense of community in its residents.

"Several years ago there was a clear strategic direction the city was headed in," City Manager Lawrence D. Hughes said. "And this is what these sessions are for, to make sure we're headed in the right direction that everyone agrees with."

Hughes said a consensus among council members about the mission of Manassas is vital to approving the new city budget, because the goals and objectives set the tone for the allocation of funds.

"We want to make decisions as a community, and my intent is to be able to relate the budget back to the direction the council wants to go in," Hughes said.

The 2000-2001 city budget, which Hughes will present to the council in March, should include recommendations from all city agencies and should reflect the goals of the council, Hughes said.

"The point of these sessions is to decide what needs to be done in the city and ways that everyone can help," he said.

The council also welcomed two new members this year, Republicans Judith S. Hays and Eugene R. Rainville, and the council thought it should revisit earlier goals with them.

Goals and objectives discussed include defining the core values of the city--pride, independence and a sense of community among residents. Also, council members want to stress civility among all government employees, to "help people trust government," said member Ulysses X. White (R). White said that means treating everyone with respect and being friendly in even the most adverse of times.

Mayor Marvin L. Gillum (R) and council member Harry J. "Hal" Parrish II (R) both said they hope to encourage more diversity in the city, from race and ethnicity to religion to the way people work with others.

"We need to encourage and respect each other's differences," Gillum said.

To help foster such diversity, a citizens task force will be formed soon so that residents can develop their own goals and objectives for the city and then present them to council members for adoption, Hughes said.

The final planning session will be held at 5:30 p.m. today on the third floor of City Hall.