Prince William County government had a strong year in 2003 despite a slow national economy and state budget cuts fueled by rising real estate values and fiscal restraint in its programs.
The county, which has growth from from 215,686 residents in 1990 to 280,813 in 2000, is still catching up with stark budget shortfalls in the 1990s and continued to fund aggressive school construction, roads, 20 new police officers, a western county police station and fire stations.
The county cut its real estate tax rate to $1.16, a cut of 7 cents this year. In 2000 the rate was $1.30. But with higher home values, the average effective tax increase was 9 percent.
At the end of its fiscal year, the county posted a $14 million surplus, more than half of which went to schools and around a third went into the county fund balance.
Prince William continues to post strong growth in its western areas as the neighborhoods in Gainesville, Haymarket and Nokesville develop. A Target and two other shopping centers were approved for the western areas to give residents options closer to home.
The arrival of pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly to the [email protected] William high-tech park occurred this summer with a groundbreaking of its insulin plant that is expected to add 400 jobs to the area.
Prince William’s top administrative officer, County Executive Craig Gerhart, is responsible for carrying out the policies set by the eight-member Board of County Supervisors.
The county has operated under the county executive form of government since 1972.
County supervisors are elected from seven magisterial districts and the chairman is elected at-large.
Sean Connaughton, a 41-year old lawyer from Triangle, took over as chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors in January 2000. The county chairman’s salary in 2003 is $41,000 and the other seven members get paid $36,000.
Connaughton and Gerhart preside over a government that continues to receive continued revenue growth from a hot real estate market and well balanced county economy that was not as reliant on information technology like Fairfax and Loudoun.
Due to conservative fiscal policies and higher real estate tax assessments, the government found itself with a $21.3 million surplus at the end of the third quarter in March, allowing for a more aggressive tax reduction plan. The county also has three elected constitutional offices: Circuit Court Clerk Dave Mabie, Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul Ebert and the Sheriff E. Lee Stoffregen III.
Sharon Pandak has held the appointed position of county attorney since 1989.
Prince William County and its 2,600 full-and part-time employees provide a broad range of services to a county population of nearly 300,000 residents.
County departments, like those in most localities, range from branches designed to shape development in Prince William to those that provide health or social services.
The main number for county government services is (703) 792-6000. Residents can also call PWC INFO at (703) 792-4636 for information 24 hours a day. Residents can also obtain county information by tapping into Prince William’s Web site at?http://www.pwcgov.org.
Among the governmental offices and their services are:
? The Community Services Board overseas mental health, mental retardation, substance abuse and prevention programs in Prince William, Manassas and Manassas Park. Hotline for the Manassas area is (703) 792-7800; in Woodbridge call (703) 792-4900.
? The Fire and Rescue Department includes paid employees and volunteers who provide the protection and ambulance services. For non-emergencies, call (703) 792-6810.
? The Prince William Health District provides a variety of health services, including immunizations, family planning and pediatric care for low-income residents. It also provides information on environmental health. Call (703) 792-6300 in Manassas, (703) 792-7300 in Woodbridge or (703) 792-4700 in Sudley.
? The Office of Housing and Community Development provides resources and administrative programs and improves housing quality and affordability for families with low and moderate incomes. Call (703) 792-7530.
? The Mapping Office assigns addresses, provides mapping data for county residents and agencies, and analyzes demographic information. Phone (703) 792-6640.
? The Human Resources Office recruits monthly employees and works on better staff relations. Call (703) 792-6640.
? The Planning Office prepares and maintains the county’s land-use plan, reviews applications for rezonings and special use permits, overseas the site and subdivision planning process and enforces the county’s zoning ordinances. Call (703) 792-6830.
? The Police Department enforces county laws. The non-emergency phone number is (703) 792-6500.
? Public Works runs the county landfill, oversees transportation projects, protects water quality, maintains the county’s buildings and grounds, constructs major drainage projects and storm sewers, does inspections on new construction, conducts building inspections, and issues building permits. Call (703) 792-6820.
? Social Services administers Aid to Dependent Children, oversees welfare reform, child-protective services, foster care, adoption and day care services. It also provides alternative housing for the homeless and offers natual disaster programs, medical, refugee and housing programs.
It offers adult protection services, home improvement grants and youth employment services. The county operates two social services offices, one near Manassas (703) 792-7500 and one in Woodbridge (703) 792-4300.
? The Sheriff’s Department serves legal notices, civil warrants and summons, handles courtroom security, and performs some traffic enforcement. Call (703) 792-6070.
The county has several other agencies that provide a variety of services ranging from animal control to libraries to recreation.
? The Service Authority, created in 1983, provides public water and sewer to county residents.
? The Park Authority maintains county parks, oversees the county’s tourism program and provides access to a variety of recreational programs for residents.
? The LINK network is designed to link neighborhoods and government through communication and information. LINK is a first point of contact for citizens who have complaints or need information about government services. Residents needing to contact LINK may call (703) 792-4045.