It’s coming up on budget time, and county residents will soon have the opportunity to talk about how they’d like to have their money spent.
Michelle Casciato, Prince William County Budget Director, said people in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) will field questions as they work through the Fiscal 2015 budget. “We are always excited when citizens get involved in the budget process because it really does make it a public process and that’s what the budget is all about.”
There are several ways Prince William County residents can get involved in the process, which begins in earnest on February 18 when County Executive Melissa Peacor presents a proposed budget to the Prince William Board of County Supervisors during a regular Board meeting.
“The Board of County Supervisors provides us guidance and lets us know what tax policy they want to consider for the proposed budget. The county executive and the school superintendent prepare their budgets based on the Board’s tax guidance,” Casciato said.
On Saturday, February 22, staff will host a public meeting at 9 a.m. in the Board of Trustees conference room at Chinn Library at 13065 Chinn Park Drive
, Woodbridge, Va. For more information about the meeting, please visit the OMB webpage at www.pwcgov.org/budget
On April 8, the Board will hold a public hearing where people can provide input on the proposed budget. “We encourage anyone who wishes to speak to the Board formally regarding the budget to please come out for the public hearing and do so,” Casciato said.
For those who have questions about the budget, they are encouraged to access the Budget Questions application on the OMB website where they can see what questions and answers have been posted or send their own question for response.
“There is a period of about six or seven weeks where there is a lot of public comment about the budget,” Casciato said. “There’ll be a lot of interesting presentations in the weeks following the county executive’s budget proposal. There are a lot of questions that we answer for the Board members and for the public. We post online every question we receive, along with the answers. All public budget presentations on the budget are also posted on the website.”
Of particular interest to the community is the budget questions database, which will be live once the budget is proposed. Last year, OMB provided answers to almost 400 questions received through this tool.
“We are asked a lot of questions that are different. And quite frankly, we enjoy that because it’s fun to answer questions about all facets of the budget. It’s a great public process. No questions are off limits; taxpayers need to understand how their tax dollars are being used for programs and services.”
Sometimes, Casciato said, the website itself serves as a place to begin learning about the county budget. “It’s a tremendous resource for those who aren’t sure what kinds of questions to ask because they’ll see what other people are asking.”
After questions are answered, presentations are given and the public provides comment, the Board will adopt the Fiscal 2015 Budget during their regular scheduled meeting Tuesday, April 29, 2014.