County is Planning Now for the Future

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Provided by Prince William County

Prince William County Seal

Every four years, the Board of County Supervisors adopts a Strategic Plan, which establishes future goals for the county and the strategies as how to accomplish those goals. This is one of those years.

Pat Thomas, the county’s strategic plan coordinator, said the aim of the strategic plan is to identify community outcomes in each of the five goal areas — economic development, education, human services, public safety and transportation —and establish strategies to achieve those goals. “The Board of County Supervisors, with the input of the community, set all new goals every four years. We look at where we are in the base line and say, ‘How much can we accomplish in the next four years? How much can we push this forward?'”

The strategic plan helps move the County towards the community’s vision for 2030, as laid out in the Prince William 2030 Future Report and Comprehensive Plan. PWL The Comprehensive Plan establishes the development pattern of the community and identifies the infrastructure needed to support that development pattern.  The Future Report describes the vision of Prince William County in the year 2030.

Updating the strategic plan also helps identify what strategies have been met, which ones are underway and which ones have yet to start, Thomas said.

To update the strategic plan, the Prince William Board of County Supervisors appoints residents to the Strategic Plan Team, which meets twice a month to name the strategies that will help the county meet the outcomes in each of the goal areas. Each board member appoints two members to the team and the budget office appoints four staff members to serve with the group.

Each of the five areas has measurable outcomes that the Office of Management and Budget evaluate annually. The evaluations are presented to the board, Thomas said. “The Board of County Supervisors revises the plan every four years. On an annual basis, we report to the Board and the community the progress on the outcomes and strategies stated in the plan.”

Measurable goals might include assessing the crime rate for the police department or response times for the fire department, Thomas said. Economic development might be rated on how many jobs moved to the county and how much businesses invested in the county. Human services measurements might include how long people remained on waiting lists or how many people were served under child and adult protective services.  Transportation might be evaluated on how many transportation bond projects were completed.

To help the team make informed decisions, the Office of Management and Budget will often ask groups to come and talk to the team, Thomas said. Staff agencies such as fire and rescue, police and the Prince William-Manassas Adult Detention Center might send people to talk about public safety. The team might see people from the Potomac Rappahannock Transportation Commission and the Virginia Railway Express when they’re discussing transportation. Staff from the county’s Planning Department and the Department of Economic Development might also show up to give the team needed information, Thomas said.

The team will meet twice a month – every first Thursday and fourth Wednesday – for the remainder of the year. The team’s recommendations will be presented to the Board of County Supervisors in December, so that the board might use the recommendations for budgeting and setting policy, Thomas said. “The board can accept it as it’s drafted; they can modify it; or they can send them back to the table to start again.”

The strategic plan, Thomas said, has remained somewhat constant in its aim over more than two decades. “We’ve been doing this a long time. We’ve been doing it since the early 90s, and we’ve consistently had the same goal areas over the years.”

Thomas said the Board has supported the strategic plan since its inception. “The board believes in this so much that they’ve actually put in their code. It’s actually required that we have a strategic plan.”

The meetings are open to the public with the first 15 minutes set aside for citizen time, Thomas said. Visit the Office of Management and Budget’s website for meeting times and places.

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