W. Pat Pate’s first days leading Manassas as city manager last week were a bit like drinking from a fire hose, he said.

With a lot of information to absorb and constant meetings with City Council and staff members, Pate’s days were packed as he settled into the job vacated by John Budesky in March.

Manassas faces pressing questions about its school system and the vitality of its historic district. But Pate, a native of North Carolina, said leading a staff of 473 places him in a good position to form partnerships, deliver for the taxpayers and set a positive tone for Manassas.

His goals are lofty. Pate said he envisions a day when saying just “Old Town” won’t be enough.

“I want them to ask, ‘Are you talking about Manassas or Alexandria?’ ” he said.

Pate, who spent 28 years in local government in Winston Salem, Greensboro and High Point, N.C., was hired after a search that involved more than 70 applicants from across the country, Mayor Harry “Hal” Parrish II (R) said. That list was whittled down to four finalists who were impressively qualified, Parrish said.

Pate, 51, stood out for his background in finance and budgeting, Parrish said. He served as a budget director in Greensboro before becoming assistant city manager, overseeing the finance and budget department in High Point, a city of about 108,000.

Manassas’s finance director position is vacant, and council members knew that the new city manager would need to hire someone for that key position, Parrish said.

“The budget and finance are an important piece of any municipality,” Parrish said.

Manassas has some similarities to High Point, Pate said. Like Manassas, it is surrounded by other localities, and officials need to build relationships with regional partners, he said.

Pate said one key to assuring the city’s long-term prosperity is to make sure people know what it has to offer.

“The region is a positive draw,” he said. In Manassas, “you get the benefit of a lot of those amenities without a lot of the problems . . . in those core urban areas.”

Pate said he would dive right into the budget, with presentations to begin in January. He was hired at a base salary of $175,000.