Provided by Prince William County
Prince William Chairman Corey A. Stewart delivered his annual State of the County address on Tuesday, Jan. 9, to open the first meeting of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors in 2018.
Stewart noticed the strength of the County and laid out his priorities for the coming year. “New parks, new schools, new roads, and new police and fire and rescue personnel have paid positive returns for the quality of life in Prince William County.”
These positive returns include new residents and businesses locating to the county. With a population now at 465,000, Prince William is the second largest county in the Commonwealth, and the county’s Department of Economic Development helped to secure a record $2.8 billion in commercial capital investment.
“There is an undeniable connection between economic growth, good schools, low crime, low taxes and quality services and amenities.” Stewart said.
The top priority for the Board, according to Stewart, remains public school education. “We dedicate more than 57 percent of county tax revenues to the school system. In 2017, the Board of County Supervisors stepped up to supplement the school system’s efforts to reduce class size with $21 million in new funding, including funding to improve and expand the design for the County’s 13th high school, which will begin construction in Bristow this year.”
Another priority for Prince William County is road construction and reducing traffic congestion. “In 2017 alone, we had 55 active road projects valuing over 500 million dollars,” Stewart said. Key projects include completing the widening for Route 1. The next segment, between Mary’s Way and Featherstone Road, is fully funded and construction will begin soon, according to Stewart. The projects along U.S. 1 has revitalized the corridor between the Fairfax line and Cardinal Drive according to Stewart.
Other transportation projects include improvements to the new Interstate 66 high occupancy lanes in the western end of the county. The county has also received funding for the construction of a new interchange at Va. 234 and Balls Ford Road, Stewart said.
Access to parks and recreation also contribute to quality of life in the county, Stewart said. “Since 2012, Prince William County has rapidly expanded its inventory of athletic fields, trails and public parks. In 2017 alone, we invested an additional $15 million to improve our existing parks and recreation facilities, including lighting and turfing athletic fields. There is much more to complete in 2018.”
In addition to these capital projects, Stewart highlighted the Board’s continued commitment to public safety. “The Board’s plan calls for 13 new police officers and 59 firefighters to be hired this year alone. We opened a new fire station in 2017, and will open a new police station in just a couple of months. We purchased land to construct a new fire station on the west end of the county; and we have identified locations for the next eight fire stations to meet the growing population.”
All of these service level improvements are critical to the quality of life according to Stewart. Yet, he also noted the importance of cutting costs. Over the past 10 years, Stewart said, the county has undertaken several rounds of cost-cutting reforms that have increased services while reducing the average tax bill adjusted for inflation. “As a result, our average residential tax bill in Prince William County is now 30 percent lower on average than the rest of Northern Virginia.”
In other business, the Board chose Coles District Supervisor Marty Nohe to serve as Vice Chairman of the Board for 2018. The Board also chose Neabsco District Supervisor John D. Jenkins as Chairman Pro-Tem for 2018.
Additionally, the Board set their agenda meeting calendar for the 2018 calendar year, which can be viewed at pwcgov.org/bocs.