The Board of County Supervisors adopted the 2017-2020 Strategic Plan during their meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017. The plan, which is adopted every four years, is a guiding document that helps move toward vision for the county as stated by the Prince William 2030 Report and the Comprehensive Plan.
"This Strategic Plan gives clear and plain direction," says Chairman Corey Stewart. "We, as a Board, commend the members of the team for the work they performed in delivering us a product that provides sound guidance for the decisions and actions of this Board and Prince William County Government."
The Strategic Plan Team, comprised of 15 residents and three staff members appointed by the Board of County Supervisors, performed more than 650 hours of work over the past 12 months to develop the final product. As noted in the Strategic Plan, "the guiding principle in the development of this plan is that the Board of County Supervisors should make every effort to accelerate the continuous enhancement of the quality of life here in Prince William County."
To that end, the team establish five goal areas as priorities for Prince William County.
"Robust Economy" focuses on increasing the commercial tax base;
"Mobility" focuses on transportation enhancements;
"Wellbeing" focuses on supporting the most vulnerable individuals in the community;
"Safe and Secure Community" focuses on public safety; and
"Quality Education and Workforce Development" focuses on providing quality education and lifelong learning.
This Strategic Plan Team made the decision to remain mostly silent on specific tactics and goal outcomes, which was a component of previous county Strategic Plan documents. "We provided high impact strategies that will differentiate Prince William County in Northern Virginia as a result of these strategies." said Dan Varroney, team member.
By providing high level strategies, the Strategic Plan says that it "provides the latitude and flexibility necessary to address the growing needs of the community." It further encourages open dialogue and discourse as decisions are made noting, "tactical decisions and strategic actions are best made in open, robust dialogue with the Board of County Supervisors, professional County staff and the citizens of Prince William County with all the data and information necessary to make informed decisions presented clearly on each of those issues as they arise."
No one area of the strategic plan is deemed more important than another. Rather, the document posits that each area influences the other to accomplish the vision of creating a "community of choice."
The area of robust economy garnered the most discussion by the Board, as the Strategic Plan challenges the County to increase the commercial tax base so that it accounts for 35 percent of the total tax base, of which it is currently 14 percent according to the document. It was the one target goal outcome measure provided in the plan, and one that the Team described as a "moon-shot," referencing Kennedy's challenge to send a man to the moon.
Board members expressed support for the moonshot, and some referenced it as a guidepost and shining light to strive toward. They noted the challenge and seeming impossibility of attaining the goal, but that it would push the Board and staff to consider all possibilities to strive and achieve such a lofty goal.
Chairman Stewart closed with some guidance on the issue noting that the commercial tax base is growing, just not at the same rate as residential. "The one thing I want to make certain, if we are going to reach this 35 percent goal, is that we aren't snobbish about the types of commercial businesses that are coming into the county. General purpose office space is on the wane. This pattern of people moving to a community, followed by retail, followed by office space is never coming back.…In addition to our targeted industries, we need to also be welcoming manufacturing, retail, data centers, entertainment, research and development and home office."
The Board noted that they will look to the Strategic Plan as a guidepost when considering issues coming before the Board, and that they will actively pursue the goals and objectives articulated in the Plan over the next four years. County Executive Chris Martino noted that he intends to rely upon the Strategic Plan to guide staff actions and priorities.
The Strategic Plan is available on the County's website at: www.pwcgov.org/strategicplan.
Strategic Plan team members included:
Merle "Skip" Brown