The Prince William County Fiscal 2018 proposed budget includes increased funding for Prince William County Public Schools, upping the threshold for the Business Professional Occupational License, or BPOL tax, hiring more public safety personnel, coordinating homeless services, beginning the process of building the 13th high school and maintaining current levels of public transportation.
In a recent presentation to the board, County Executive Christopher E. Martino, said that the proposed Fiscal 2018 budget operational expenditures increased by 3.24 percent over the Fiscal 2017 budget, which is below the board's adopted Five-Year Plan proposal to cap operational expenses at a 3.5 percent increase annually. If the proposed budget were adopted as presented, the real estate tax rate would move from the current rate of $1.122 to $1.125 per $100 of assessed value. Additionally, Martino recommends increasing the fire levy by $34 in Fiscal 2018 to cover operational and capital costs for Fire and Rescue services. Finally, building and land development fees, which is charged to those building and/or improving property, would increase by 1.85 percent and 1.1 percent respectively.
Martino told the board that the proposed budget was developed to support the recently adopted Strategic Plan and to meet the identified community expectations for a good quality of life, a robust economy, a safe and secure community, quality education and workforce development, mobility and wellbeing in the community.
As directed in the board's adopted Five-Year Plan, the Proposed Fiscal 2018 budget implements the county/school revenue sharing agreement, and provides $548 million of the county's $966 million general revenue to the school system. Thus leaving the county with $418 million in general revenue. Other county revenue, including money collected through county agencies, would bring the county's total county revenue to $569 million, the presentation showed.
In Fiscal 2016, the board voted to raise the threshold on the BPOL tax from $300,000 to $500,000 over four years. In other words, businesses with gross receipts less than the threshold would be exempt from the tax. The Fiscal 2018 proposed budget would raise the exemption threshold to $500,000 two years ahead of schedule and exempt 681 businesses in the county from the BPOL tax to support growing small businesses, Martino said.
Maintaining current levels of public safety to keep pace with a growing population is pivotal according to Martino. The proposed budget hires 28 full-time employees at the Prince William-Manassas Adult Detention Center and 13 police officers and three civilian police employees. The county also would hire two sheriff's deputies to conduct evictions, which the board directed to be added this year in its Five-Year Plan.
The proposed budget also calls for implementing the police department's body-worn camera program at a cost of $1.3 million, which is already in the county's Capital Improvement Plan. An additional Commonwealth's attorney and a paralegal, at a cost of $170,000, would be needed to oversee digital evidence collected by the cameras for prosecution, the presentation showed.
Fire and rescue would also see an increase of 59 employees under the proposed budget. The firefighters and rescue technicians would staff the Gainesville station, Lake Jackson Fire and Rescue and Occoquan-Woodbridge Lorton (OWL) Station 14, for a total cost of $6.5 million with $2.9 million funded by the fire levy.
Improving services for the homeless would include coordinated intake for rapid rehousing to prevent people from becoming homeless and to reduce the time spent in temporary shelters. Streamlining the process would also direct services provided by community partners at a lower cost. Running the program would require four full-time and two part-time employees. Under the program 177 more people would receive services annually. The coordinated program would cost $400,000.
Employee compensation would cost an additional $8.9 million with planned pay raises and health insurance/benefits increases.
More information on the budget in its entirety, including all budget-related meeting schedules, can be seen at the county's Office of Management and Budget website