Thank you to all who participated in the budget process, whether by writing to your supervisor, speaking during Citizen’s Time or participating in advisory committees. Like most years, the approved 2018 Prince William County Budget contains a number of critical investments in our community, along with areas that fall short of optimal funding levels. Education infrastructure is one such area of deficiency. I am disappointed that my colleagues chose to defer action on my School Capital Acceleration Plan, which over the next 10 years would have eliminated the 211 trailers now serving as classrooms in our county. Progress would have begun in the next fiscal year, starting July 1, 2017, using existing funds, and with no immediate tax increase.
Still, as passed, the $3.2 billion FY 2018 budget supports many core services necessary to a high quality of life and economic vitality, providing an additional $21.9 million for the school division and $18 million more for county services compared to the current budget. Areas of increased investment include:
- Pay raises for county employees, including a step increase for teachers, helping Prince William to be more competitive with surrounding school systems
- $6.5 million for the hiring of 59 firefighters
- Addition of 17 police department positions
- Addition of 28 full-time workers at the Prince William-Manassas Regional Adult Detention Center
- Fully funding the police department’s body-worn camera program
- Prince William School Board’s $1.7 billion budget for the next school year
- Construction of a 200-bed expansion of the county jail, long over maximum capacity
- $225,000 per district for small road projects, such as sidewalks, speed bumps or turn lanes
- Addition of four full-time and two part-time housing assistance employees
- $400,000 towards helping those living in homelessness or in danger of losing housing
- Raises BPOL (business, professional and occupational licenses) tax threshold to $500,000, reducing the tax bill for 618 small businesses
To support these improvements to critical county services, the board approved (6 to 2) a real estate tax rate of $1.125 per $100 of assessed value. On average, homeowners will pay an additional $105 per year; $34 of which is an increase to the fire levy.