The Prince William Board of County Supervisors adopted its Fiscal 2019 budget with a commitment to moving its strategic plan initiatives forward. The board maintained a flat real estate tax rate of $1.125 per $100 of assessed value. Additionally, they voted to reduce the amount of the County Executive's proposed fire levy increase bringing it to $0.080 per $100 of assessed value. In total, the average residential tax bill (including the real estate tax, fire levy and Mosquito and Forest Pest Management Service District) will increase $132 or $11 per month.
The Prince William County Public School System remains the Board's top spending priority with nearly 50 percent of total county general fund expenditures devoted to schools. This budget transfers a total of $583.4 million to the school system, which is a $31.2 million or 5.7 percent increase over last year's funding. This includes a $1 million matching grant for class size reduction and $500,000 to fund a pilot program that will allow the school system to hire retired police officers to serve as armed security guards in elementary schools.
Assuring a safe and secure community is the Board's key initiative in this budget with nearly 46 percent of remaining non-school general fund expenditures devoted to public safety. New initiatives funded by the board include $3 million to address internal pay compression issues in Police, Fire & Rescue, Sheriff and the Adult Detention Center. Additionally, the Board accelerated the County Executives' proposed market adjustment for police officers. Effective April 1, 2019, police officers will receive a market pay adjustment to make salaries competitive with surrounding Northern Virginia jurisdictions.
The board also enhanced Fire and Rescue services through additional general fund and fire levy revenues. General fund revenues will support 24-hour staffing for a ladder truck. The board also directed the Fire and Rescue System to recommend the allocation of additional fire levy revenues to improve fire and rescue services in the County.
Other public safety operations funding includes new positions necessary to staff the Adult Detention Center expansion; new police officers; a gang intervention, prevention and education program; new park ranger positions; a pre-trial probation officer; a network operations center manager; a teletype operator; and enhanced dispute services.
To promote a robust economy, the county invested $388,000 in a small business program to help business owners navigate easily through the county's development process of planning, permitting and inspections. The board also allocated $169,000 for Eastern Business Development to foster a cybersecurity partnership with Northern Virginia Community College to establish a government contractors initiative along with an entrepreneurial accelerator initiative.
To aid in mobility, a subsidy from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority provides $6.2 million to the Virginia Railway Express and $11.3 million to the Potomac Rappahannock Transportation Commission.
To enhance wellbeing of the most vulnerable in our community, the board increased funding for adult substance abuse treatment, which includes addressing a long waiting list for those seeking assistance. Residential drug placement screening, and medication-assisted treatment are also supported, along with hiring three social services workers for a total cost of $430,000.
Due to the success of the western crisis assessment center, the board also funded a crisis assessment center in the east end of the county to provide mental illness evaluation and treatment referrals as an alternative to jail.
Lastly, the board continued its commitment to community improvement by funding capital investments for park facilities throughout the county. This includes investing nearly $10 million in Catharpin Park, Rollins Ford Park and Harbor Drive Park, and improvements and amenities at Long Park, Locust Shade Park and Cloverdale Park.