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Budget concerns prompt Henrico ‘purchasing freeze’

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HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) – Citing “disturbing trends” with the county budget, Henrico Manager John Vithoulkas issued a memo to county department heads Monday ordering a county-wide purchasing freeze. The freeze goes into effect on Friday.

“I am aware the purchasing freeze may present challenges in operating your departments for the remainder of the fiscal year but I also know that you will meet this challenge,” Vithoulkas wrote in the memo.

In the memo Vithoulkas referred to “disturbing trends” he sees in the county budget.

Those trends include:

  • The County’s fund balance projected to decline by $100 million by FY2014-15 from FY2008-09
  • The County’s 0.1% operating surplus in FY2011-12
  • General Fund Revenues in FY2012-13 anticipated to be less than actual revenues collected in FY2006-07

The freeze, which normally occurs closer to the end of the fiscal year, was moved up a month or so in response to the current economic climate.

The purchasing freeze limits what departments can buy without permission from the County’s Director of Finance, county spokesman Steve Knockemus said. He said day-to-day materials like office supplies do not fall under the freeze.

Vithoulkas became Henrico County Manager in January. He addressed concerns about the economy after he was hired for the job last summer.

“What happens to the economy after the election [November 2012], from that, we’ll base our revenues. One thing Henrico doesn’t do is spend money it doesn’t have,” Vithoulkas said in August 2012.

In that same interview, Vithoulkas said his priority in this top executive position will be the economy.