Prince William County Executive Christopher Martino presented the Proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Budget to the Prince William Board of County Supervisors on Tuesday, Feb. 16.
The Proposed FY2022 Budget advances the County's strategic plan priorities while maintaining the Revenue Sharing Agreement with the school system and implementing state and federal mandates, as well as board policy directives. Those directives include renaming Route 1 while providing grant assistance to impacted businesses; expanding and sustaining homeless services; developing a tax evader program to enforce personal property tax compliance; and developing an equity and inclusion program.
The proposed budget also funds the County's debt service and technology operating costs, sustains the investment into wellbeing initiatives for the most vulnerable, restores reductions from Fiscal Year 2021, provides employee compensation and advances the parks and transportation referendum projects that the community approved in 2019.
To fund these items, the proposed budget includes an increase in the business tangible computer and peripheral tax rate by $0.25 and using the authority recently granted by the state to institute a cigarette tax, which is proposed at $0.30 per pack, providing potentially $3 million in revenue. The proposed budget maintains a flat real estate tax rate of $1.125 per $100 of assessed value and flat fire levy rate of $0.08 per $100 of assessed value. The average real estate tax bill would increase by $328 ($306 from real estate tax and $22 from fire levy).
Following the Strategic Plan's guiding principles, the proposed budget invests resources in vital service improvements within the five strategic goal areas described below.
Robust Economy – The County continues to seek opportunities to assist small businesses as they recover during the pandemic through small business relief micro-grants as well as capital investment and innovation grants for businesses that needed to make physical improvements and adhere to safety guidelines during the pandemic.
Mobility – The proposed budget maintains the Transportation Roadway Improvement Program, which constructs mobility projects such as sidewalks, trails and safety improvements.
Safe & Secure Community – The proposed budget includes engine unit staffing for the new Fire & Rescue Station 22 located on Balls Ford Road, which opened in January 2021, as well as staff for the Office of the Commonwealth's Attorney and administrative local assistance for the courts. It also includes re-establishing police and sheriff staffing plans.
Wellbeing – The County saw an increase for public benefits caused by the pandemic. In response, the proposed budget includes a Social Services staffing plan to address Benefits Eligibility and Child Care's new applications and renewals within federally required timeframes. It also includes increased local funding to expand the Co-Responder program, a joint effort between Community Services and Police to help and divert clients experiencing mental health crises from hospitalization or incarceration. Local general fund support is also provided for expanded homeless services and reducing the waitlist for services of the developmentally disabled. The proposed budget also expands funding to establish a Child Advocacy Center for the investigation, treatment, intervention and prosecution of child abuse cases while minimizing child victim trauma.
Quality Education and Workforce Development – Support for K-12 education continues with the County/schools revenue sharing agreement, which provides 57.23 percent of general revenue to Prince William County Schools. The proposed budget increases the local transfer to the schools by $34.6 million or 5.5 percent more than FY2021.
"The Proposed FY2022 Budget invests in the community's strategic goals and addresses the needs of a growing and diverse community," said Martino. "However, this is the first step in the budget process. We look forward to continued dialogue with the board and the community, and we are here to support the board as they make important decisions, culminating with the budget adoption in April."
There are several opportunities for the public to engage during the FY2022 budget process over the next several months. Budget work sessions will take place during board meetings on March 2, March 9 and March 16; a public hearing is scheduled for March 16; budget recap is April 13, as is the budget and tax rates/fees public hearing; budget markup is April 20; and the board is scheduled to adopt the budget the evening of April 27.
For more information on the budget, including a complete budget calendar, or to ask questions online through the budget Q&A application, visit www.pwcgov.org/budget. People can also provide feedback on the budget items on the board's agenda through SpeakUp! Prince William at www.pwcgov.org/speakup.