Flat Tax Bill Will Not Solve Classroom Overcrowding, Teacher Pay

On May 6, after hours of debate and months of public hearings, the Prince William Board of County Supervisors approved the FY2017 Budget based on a flat real estate tax rate of $1.122 per $100 of assessed value. The Board will transfer 57.23% of General Fund revenue to  Prince William County Public Schools, a $7.1 million shortfall from original projections.

For the first time in recent history, the Board did not pass a five-year plan or Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) at the time of budget approval. “The desire to maintain a flat tax rate and failure to approve a 5-year plan is short range thinking, suggesting more interest by some board members in climbing the political ladder than in effective government,” said Woodbridge District Supervisor Frank Principi. “Some of my colleagues are kicking the can down the road on classroom overcrowding, teacher pay and use of trailers as classrooms. In the meantime, I’ll continue proposing solutions, as evidenced by my pending resolution to provide $2 million dollars toward the purchase of land to construct a new elementary school in eastern Prince William. Our critical unmet needs cannot continue to be ignored at the expense of a campaign talking point.”

Principi went on to say that the budget is not without merit: “The Board did see value in and approved all of the strategic and targeted investments I had included in my December 2015 budget guidance, such as preserving PRTC bus service, addressing mental health needs and investing in fire and rescue. The budget also reflected the recommended cuts that I developed with input from constituents.” He also noted approximately $100 million of investments included in the yet-to-be-approved Capital Improvement Plan that he said will positively impact the quality of life in his district:

  • Transportation
  • Neabsco Mills Road-Route 1 to Dale Blvd ($1.0M)
  • Potomac Town Center Commuter Parking Lot ($15.0M)
  • Route 1 Improvements-Featherstone to Marys Way ($69.4M)
  • Route 1 Improvements-Neabsco Mills to Featherstone ($3.4M)
  • Transportation Roadway Improvement Program Projects
  • Blackburn Road Sidewalk ($489K)
  • Powells Creek Pedestrian Improvement ($375K)
  • Economic & Tourism Development
  • Historic Preservation Maintenance Funding at Rippon Lodge ($44K)
  • Route 1/Route 123 Underground Utilities ($9.5M of $12.1M expended as of 3/15/16)
  • Prince William Museum at Rippon Lodge ($44K)
  • Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail Segments ($5.5M)
  • Occoquan Wildlife Refuge
  • Featherstone Wildlife Refuge
  • Neabsco Creek Crossing

“While I am proud of the progress we have achieved in Woodbridge in recent years, and glad for the continued investment going into our community, this budget left many issues left unaddressed,” said Principi. “We have the highest class-sizes in Northern Virginia and serious issues with teacher pay and retention. Yet some of our Board members could not see past political differences, and were unwilling to have a substantive conversation with our School Board colleagues and seek compromise. At the end of the day, that hurts our students and educators. This budget has them caught in the crossfire.”

Principi added that his priorities for the FY 2017 Budget reflect the input and feedback he received from the Woodbridge Budget Workgroup, private citizens with whom he met for several months to review and analyze the proposed budget and identify the greatest areas of community need.

 

 

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