Prince William Board of County Supervisors could be voting on a lower tax rate for the fiscal year 2013 budget on April 24.
The board held a non-binding straw vote on Tuesday concerning a $1.209 tax rate per $100 of assessed property value. The vote was 6-1 in favor of the lower tax rate, which could be approved in the budget adoption meeting next Tuesday, April 24.
A tax rate of $1.209 would fund County Executive Melissa Peacor’s budget for FY 2013.
The advertised tax rate is $1.215, which the board voted against in a 5-2 non-binding straw poll vote prior to the $1.209 vote.
Coles District Supervisor Marty Nohe presented a proposal that suggested a flat tax rate of $1.204 and would find cuts in the FY 13 budget totaling $929,875. The board did not approve Nohe’s $1.204 budget proposal.
Bonnie Klackowicz, president of Prince William Education Association spoke in favor of keeping the .
“Now that the economy is recovering, it would be completely unfair to lock in the perpetual underfunding of vital county services, such as schools,” Klackowicz said before the board Tuesday. “A flat tax rate over time will not provide the revenue needed to support Prince William County schools for their growth in student population.”
work session on the county school budget, Chairman Corey Stewart explained to that the board explored the possibility of a flat tax bill adjusted for inflation ($1.212) or a revenue neutral rate ($1.209).
“What’s critical is that we continue our infrastructure projects, especially our road projects,” said Stewart prior to Nohe’s presentation on a $1.204 tax rate.
Stewart said the county is growing and is more complex and as such the fire-rescue and police aspects of the budget need to be kept intact.
Nohe’s proposed budget on a $1.204 flat tax rate would not cut public safety staffing plans, capital projects, and employee compensation.
Further, to find those cuts, Nohe’s budget proposed not funding the Eastern Economic Development Office, saving $844,613 over five years, and not funding two new positions in the Fire Marshal’s Office for arson investigators for a savings of $1,348,148 over five years. Nohe noted that these are not current positions within the fire department.
Additionally, the flat tax rate budget would not fund assistant county attorney and legal administrative assistant positions at a savings of $721,161 over five years.
Nohe said his plan wouldn’t cut Capital Improvement Plan projects, but would move them around. He said the board should consider deferring debt financing for Catharpin Park.
Potomac District Supervisor Maureen Caddigan said it would mean schools would have to go back and find $9,700,000 over the next five years.
“I think we are pulling the rug out from underneath the schools by looking at this tax,” said Caddigan of the $1.204 tax rate. “I have big problems with it, simply because it does take considerable money out of the county as well. “
Caddigan said schools and public safety are her priorities. Neabsco District Supervisor John Jenkins echoed Caddigan’s sentiment and said he is very concerned on the impact of the flat tax rate on the schools.
Woodbrige District Supervisor Frank Principi was out of the country due to a death in the family, but sent a message in support of the advertised tax rate.
In a Facebook posting, PWEA urged residents to contact their representatives concerning a $1.209 tax rate. “Good grief! This would definitely have a negative impact on the school budget,” reads the end of the Facebook post.
The board will reach a budget adoption next Tuesday on April 24. The School Board meets this evening at 7 p.m. Meetings can be watched remotely online.