The Prince William Board of County Supervisors adopted the FY 2013 budget this afternoon, formally approving the revenue neutral tax rate of $1.209 that they voted on in an earlier straw poll, and approving the Capital Improvement Program and the Five Year Budget Plan.
"It is important to compromise," Chairman Corey Stewart said. "This budget is not a perfect budget to anyone on this board. I would have liked to see this rate lower. But we have to come together and get things done. We're not like a legislature that can toss out random statements and run away without any responsibility."
The county website reported that the adopted budget gave PWC the lowest tax bill and burden in Northern Virginia.
To soften the blow of a $3 million shortfall that this tax rate delivers to the schools, the board supported such measures as changing a 10 percent annual increase in employee health premiums starting in 2014 to 9 percent (which had no impact to the FY 13 budget) and reducing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act reserve by $500,000 annually to save $2 million over five years.
The board also supported deferring the debt-financed construction of Catharpin Park in Gainesville until 2016, prompting a heated response from Gainesville District Supervisor Pete Candland, who wanted both a low tax rate and the construction of the park.
"That might not be a priority for the other members of this board, but this is what the people of Gainesville care about," Candland said, during comments that went on for several minutes.
"I could not support a half million dollars on Catharpin Park when our first priority should be schools," Woodbridge District Supervisor Frank Principi said.
Principi, Potomac District Supervisor Maureen Caddigan and Neabsco District Supervisor John Jenkins proposed returning to the original tax rate of $1.215, but were outvoted 5-3.
"We have the largest classroom sizes in the commonwealth. Shame on us. Our teachers are the second lowest paid teachers in the entire Commonwealth of Virginia. Shame on us. Our investment on a per-pupil basis in education is the second lowest in this community. Shame on us," Principi said.
The board voted to adopt the rate of $1.209, with only Candland voting nay, and Caddigan and Principi saying they had "fought the good fight," and would support the budget despite the lower tax rate.
During citizen's time, Bonnie Klakowicz, president of the Prince William Education Association, also pleaded for the $1.215 tax rate.
"At some point, this county is going to have to address the growth of the student population," she said. "You are kicking a can down the road."