The Council had a work session tonight to setup the budget process for this fall by establishing a forecast. The forecast is what the City Manager uses to develop his budget that he presents in February. The forecast isn’t binding but it does set expectations.
The presiding philosophy at this point is to hold residential real estate bills, on average, the same as they were last year. Holding the line on real estate taxes will result in shortfalls to both the City and School budget in this budget year but I feel that this is appropriate and manageable. For next year, we are expecting reasonably large shortfalls in sales, meals and BPOL taxes so the forecast is far from certain.
For my part, I know that economic conditions are not making life easy for people but philosophically I’m not ready to cut millions of dollars from the school budget, stop funding the stuff we do in Old Town or give up on Manassas Next. We have to be ready to emerge from this recession strong in order to compete with surrounding jurisdictions. Closing the Candy Factory, Museum or shelving our economic development efforts only hamstrings our efforts and sets us back 5-10 years. Fundamentally, I’m jst not there yet.
Now, I’m not completely crazy. If the economy completely falls apart, we’ll do what needs to be done but I don’t feel we’re there yet. Given the way that things are going, this could change by next week…:)