County funding priorities unsettled

Funding four more police officers than Prince William County Executive Craig S. Gerhart recommended would cost the county $465,000 in fiscal 2003.

That was one of several findings by county budget analysts Tuesday as they presented how much various budget requests would cost.

For instance, a 10-year financing plan to pay the debt service on $20 million worth of land along U.S. 1, which the Urban Land Institute recommended, would cost $20.7 million. Baseline testing for hepatitis C among firefighters has a price tag of $16,000.

Budget Director David L. Tyeryar made it clear the county would not be able to do it all.

“You can do anything, but you can’t do everything,” he said. “You don’t have enough money.”

If everything the other groups expressed an interest in were funded, the general fund would be short by $1.3 million. It will be up to supervisors to figure out which of the myriad requests are to be funded.

The Prince William County budget process is nearing an end, with adoption scheduled for April 16.

The good news is that after Gerhart’s recommended $555,225 general-fund budget is financed — $910,619 will be left.

But the Prince William Board of County Supervisors traditionally asks to explore other options.

Adding an additional 1-cent real-estate tax cut from the proposed $1.22 per $100 of assessed value would make the deficit even larger. “The value of a penny is $2.2 million,” Tyeryar said.

The county also must decide what to do about Sheriff E. Lee Stoffregen’s proposed $4.7 million budget, in which the sheriff has asked for six new deputies. Two could be funded with $50,000 set aside in fiscal 2002.

In addition, Gerhart recommended the county put off including Gainesville Supervisor Edgar S. Wilbourn III’s proposal that the county consider a modified Proposition 13 tax proposal to cap real-estate assessment increases until after a July work session.

He said he has learned an amendment to the Virginia Constitution would be required.

“At the work session we can present what other states and jurisdictions around the country are implementing for tax relief and discuss the pros and cons for Prince William County,” Gerhart said in a letter to the board.

Under his proposed general-fund spending plan, the budget would increase about 13 percent from last year, when it was $476.6 million.

Staff writer Diane Freda can be reached at (703) 878-4723.

Similar Posts