Most Read: Local

The State of NoVa
Posted at 05:57 PM ET, 02/15/2012

Proposed Prince William budget draws backlash

Residential tax bills in Prince William County would go up by an average of $110 if a budget plan laid out by the county executive is adopted by the Board of County Supervisors.

County Executive Melissa S. Peacor’s proposed budget of $912.6 million for the next fiscal year calls for a tax rate of $1.215 per $100 of assessed value over this fiscal year’s rate of $1.204 per $100 of assessed value. That would bring the average real estate tax bill to $3,311, according to Peacor’s presentation. The next-closest real estate tax bill is Alexandria’s average of $4,485.
Prince William Board Chairman Corey Stewart (By Dayna Smith for The Washington Post)

Even though Prince William’s tax bill is the lowest in Northern Virginia, Board Chairman Corey A. Stewart (R-At Large) said he will look to trim the budget so real estate tax bills stay flat.

The board is scheduled to advertise a tax rate Tuesday.

“I will not vote for an increase in the tax rate,” Stewart said. He said he hopes to advertise a tax rate that calls for flat or lower real estate tax bills. Under state law, once a rate is advertised, supervisors can only lower it.

Teachers, some of whom are protesting salary freezes, are one group that hoped to see more of an increase. About 57 percent of the county’s budget goes toward schools.

Stewart said the elected School Board has to spend its money based on its priorities, but that state budget cuts were mostly to blame for the schools’ austerity. Proposed cuts in “cost to compete” funding are landing heavily on Prince William, he said, and he is working with state legislators to reinstate those dollars.

“If the school system wants us to completely replace state funding cuts, we would have to raise tax bills significantly and ... we’re not going to be putting that burden on the local taxpayer,” he said.

Stewart said one item he thinks can go from Peacor’s proposed budget is the Central District Police Station, which has generated some neighborhood opposition. Stewart said it needs to be built at some point, but could probably be pushed off.

Peacor’s budget presentation calls for the new station near Davis Ford Road and Prince William Parkway to maintain response times and relieve overcrowding of the area’s other police stations. The station would come at a cost of $28.1 million over the next three fiscal years.

Other big-ticket items include $464,913 for a new community development office in the eastern part of the county. The budget also includes a 3 percent merit pay raise for county staff and 12 new police officers, among other additions.

House values went up slightly last year by an average of 2.5 percent.

The board is scheduled to formally adopt the budget in April.

By  |  05:57 PM ET, 02/15/2012

 
Read what others are saying
     

    © 2011 The Washington Post Company