Budget set for county approval

Adoption of a $543.2 million operating budget and consideration of a church in the Rural Crescent top the agenda for the Prince William Board of County Supervisors meeting Tuesday.

Included in the budget is $464,000 for 20 new police officers, four more than originally recommended, and $188,300 for four new deputies for the Prince William County Sheriffs Office.

The latter mostly will be paid for by a new $5 court conviction fee the county can charge beginning in July.

The 2003 spending plan is roughly 13 percent greater than last year, when the budget was $476.6 million. If approved, the new budget will lower the tax rate from $1.30 to $1.23 per $100 of assessed property value.

The plan also funds 20 new firefighters and an emergency services coordinator at a cost of $2.6 million.

Under an annual revenue-sharing agreement, the county will turn over almost 57 percent, approximately $259 million, next year to Prince William County Schools for new construction and other needs.

But the budget wont be the only hot item on the agenda Tuesday.

The board also is scheduled to consider a special-use permit for the First Baptist Church of Gainesville.

Although church leaders have reduced its proposed size from 83,800 square feet larger than Hylton Chapel in Woodbridge to 23,327 square feet, Gainesville residents remain opposed. They say the church is still too big for the 80,000-acre rural preserve in the western end of the county.

The board must decide Tuesday whether to approve the plan in its smaller version, or send it back to the Prince William County Planning Commission for further consideration. The commission voted against the original proposal in February.

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