The Prince William Board of Supervisors asked the Industrial Development Authority in Richmond this week to assume responsibility for determining how $11.8 million in industrial revenue bonds will be allocated in 1985.
The $11.8-million figure represents a drop of about $6 million in bonds usually allotted to the county, due to a state ceiling. The 1984 tax reform law put a limit of $150 per capita on the amount in bonds the state can allocate, with half of that amount reverting to each jurisdiction and the other half staying with the state in a reserve fund.
The board has decided to allow the authority to be the sole distributor of the county's shrinking funds this year because "they're the experts," according to County Attorney John Foote. The authority holds detailed public hearings for applications for loans. The board has not held such hearings since the law was changed several years ago, said Foote. "The authority has always made good decisions and the board trusts them," Foote said.
Industrial development bonds are funds used to finance new business or retain old business in jurisdictions by offering tax-free loans.
According to county Economic Development Director Dyan Lingle, the authority will probably make a recommendation to the board by Oct. 1.
Lingle said she has recommended to bond counsel Bonnie France of McGuire, Woods and Battle that the authority restrict its support to research and development companies and to industry rather than retail businesses.
Lingle said her office is also targeting support for companies that offer employment opportunities at higher than minimum-wage rates and has suggested that the authority do the same. "Retail and fast-food jobs at minimum wage are a little easier to come by," she said. "Our office believes that the county's needs point more to the higher paying jobs at this time." The authority will act on Lingle's recommendation at its Sept. 17 meeting, she said.
The supervisors set a Sept. 18 public hearing date on whether or not sewer and water connection rates in the county should be reduced. The Prince William County Service Authority recommended a fee of $2,500 for the combined connection, representing a reduction of $50 to more than $1,000 in current charges. Ray Spittle, the authority's general manager, presented the board with a chart showing that the new rates will be considerably lower than those charged by surrounding jurisdictions, including Fairfax County, which charges more than $3,000 for the service.
The board also authorized that the issue of uniform water and sewer rates rates be taken up at the public hearings. When the service authority consolidated services in the county's five sanitary districts several years ago, each district's rates, which vary by as much as several hundred dollars, remained unchanged.
Based on a recommendation of the Vienna engineering firm of BC Potomac, Inc., the authority has asked that a uniform rate of $1,300 for water and $1,200 for sewer hookup be charged throughout the county, with this rate remaining in effect until a followup review is completed at the end of two years.
Districts affected are the Occoquan Woodbridge/Dumfries Triangle Sanitary District, The Greater Manassas Sanitary District, and the Yorkshire, Oak Ridge and Nokesville sanitary districts. The authority asked that the rates currently in effect in the Occoquan Woodbridge/Dumfries Triangle District be used as the standards. In that district, customers using 15,000 gallons of water a day are charged a total of $75.30 for a three-month period.