Budget Public Hearing on April 12 at 7:30 pm at the McCoart Building**

For members of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, “tax time” means the annual ritual of balancing critical community needs with a tax rate that is manageable for residents. We began that process in December, authorizing the development of a Fiscal Year 2017 budget based on the approved five-year plan, with strategic investment in core services for our growing community: road-building to alleviate gridlock, reduction of classroom overcrowding, increased access to mental health services and adequate fire and police staffing. The County Executive’s resulting draft budget accounts for these priorities with a property tax rate increase of 3.88 percent, which averages to about $12/month for homeowners.

Your voice is critical as we finalize the budget, particularly with several Supervisors taking a step back from our initial budget guidance, pushing for a tax rate that would not keep up with our population growth, strategic investments and “triple A” bond rating. They are categorizing the five-year plan as “overly aggressive,” citing slow economic recovery. However, recent local economic data does not support this claim.

In the last year, our unemployment dropped from 4.2 to 3.5 percent and the median household increased to $98,000 in 2014. The County has also been outpacing other Virginia jurisdictions in new employment establishments since 2010. Meanwhile, our population has increased an average of 3 percent per year over the past decade. This data shows a growing, thriving community that must continue investing in the services that our citizens rely on and attracts economic development, which in turn creates jobs.

So the question becomes, what in the approved plan would those Supervisors scale back or eliminate to achieve a flat tax rate? Should we forego hiring firefighters, police officers, teachers? Should we stop widening Route 1? Should we allow our children to continue to be taught in trailers? It’s easy to demand a lower tax rate, but difficult to propose cuts that don’t negatively impact the quality of life we enjoy here in Prince William.

Please feel free to contact me with questions or concerns at 703.792.4646 or FPrincipi@pwcgov.org. You can also participate in the Budget Public Hearing on April 12 at 7:30 pm at the McCoart Building. For budget and community news, visit www.NewWoodbridge.org and Facebook.com/NewWoodbridge.

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