BOCS Review Supervisors’ Initial Budget Proposals for Tax Bill

| December 10, 2012 | 0 Comments | News

Supervisors submitted preliminary tax bill proposals in November that were openly discussed at the Dec. 4 Board of County Supervisors meeting.

The Prince William County Board of County Supervisors considered four FY14 (Fiscal Year 2014) budget scenarios at their Dec. 4 meeting.

County Executive Melissa Peacor and her staff presented their analyses of the initial budget proposals they received from members in November. They analyzed those proposals for legality and to demonstrate their effects upon county services and the tax bill over a term of five years.

Chairman At-Large Corey Stewart (R), Supervisor Pete Candland (Gainesville-R), John Jenkins (Neabsco-D) and Frank Principi (Woodbridge- D) each submitted versions of the budget.

Chairman Stewart presented a budget that would allow for a flat tax bill, meaning the tax bill was designed to minimize changes in taxes to residents from 2012-13 to 2013-14, despite increased home values and inflation. According to Peacor’s office, his proposal would provide $9.6 million in savings secured from the elimination or defunding of county programs.

Stewart’s plan cuts funding to county agencies that were originally, though no longer, primarily funded by the General Assembly. One such department is the Department of Health. Stewart assumes that the Affordable Care Act will soon insure those county residents who have relied upon the Health Department’s services in the past. He also expects that the General Assembly may “step up” and fund some of these departments.

However, school funding would also be cut in accordance with the revenue-sharing agreement. The School Board would be asked to find $12.7 million in savings, and 24 county employees would be let go or positions would remain unfilled under Stewart’s plan.

The cost to taxpayers according to the largely hypothetical five-year plan would see an increase of $132 in taxes between FY 2014-2018.

Supervisor Candland’s plan is also based on the premise of reaching a flat tax bill. He advocates for all the same cuts as Stewart, but also seeks to save an additional $8.1 million through cutting funding to additional county agencies and community partners. Combined cuts would provide a total of $21 million in savings for the county, but he also intends to increase pay for teachers and funds to police and fire and rescue.

His plan also recommends an end to the revenue-sharing agreement, and instead recommends more money be given to the School Board at least for the FY14 budget.

Candland offers specific recommendations to the School Board: to provide funding to offset class sizes and provide pay increase to classroom teachers, though not to administrators nor support staff. However, this specification is unlikely enforceable since the School Board retains jurisdiction over budget line items.

Peacor expressed concern with some of Candland’s recommendations, such as his proposed elimination of undersigned fund balances, which could jeopardize the county’s superior bond rating.

In contrast to Candland and Stewart, Supervisor Jenkins and Principi proposed increasing the tax bill with the objective of funding unmet needs in the county.

Jenkins proposed a 12.38 percent increase in the tax bill from 2012. This would mean a $408 average tax increase for residents over five years, but would provide an additional $25.5 million to the School Board  in FY14 and additional funds that county agencies requested. Overall that would provide $44 million more in revenue in FY14 and allow the county to hire 91.5 new employees.

Principi’s plan recommends raising taxes by 13.56 percent. This tax increase would result in $50 million more in revenue for the county, of which $28.6 million would go to the School Board. It would also allow the county to hire new staff members and prevent downsizing.

This year’s approach to proposing the tax bill deviated from recent years, in which the process began with a recommendation from the County Executive and her staff.

The Board of County Supervisors wanted citizens to know that they are still in the early phases of proposing a tax budget, which will not be adopted until April of 2013. The Board will likely adopt none of the four budgets in their current forms, but use them as a starting off point to discuss their priorities, needs and wants.

 

 

© 2012, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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