Contributed by Prince William County
WOODBRIDGE, VA… Today, Supervisor Frank J. Principi released his FY 2015 Prince William County budget plan which prioritizes investment in the critical unmet needs of our community. “Due to the budget cuts over the past few years, we have accumulated more than $40 million in critical unmet needs. Many of our economic indicators are showing improvement; housing values are rising and new homes are being built, companies are again hiring and expanding operations, and the employment rate is trending downward. The time is now for our elected leadership to begin adequately funding schools, public safety and programs for those suffering from mental illness,” said Supervisor Principi.
This proposal recommends:
- $3,103,140 for the Police Department to hire an additional 20 new sworn officers.
- $2,460,000 for the Fire Department to hire an additional 20 new firefighters.
- $500,212 for the Community Services Board for Mental Health Adult Outpatient Services.
- $1,115,000 to match the School Board’s investment to lower class sizes.
These funding priorities total $7.2 million which can be allocated in the FY15 budget if the advertised tax rate is adopted by the Board of County Supervisors.
Supervisor Principi’s proposal will include an additional 20 new sworn officers to fully fund the staffing plan laid out by the Police Department. Police Chief Hudson asked the Board to fund 25 officers in Fiscal Year 2015. The goal stated in the County’s Comprehensive Plan is to have two police officers per 1,000 residents. The current ratio falls short with 1.43 officers per 1,000 residents. The Police Department had a staffing plan that called for 693 officers in FY 2015, but the proposed budget falls short by 83 officers.
Chief McGee, of the Department of Fire and Rescue is requesting 27-30 new firefighters. Supervisor Principi’s proposal will fund an additional 20 new firefighters to the tune of $2,460,000. The Department’s fire suppression goal is to reach the site of an incident within 4 minutes. Disturbingly, we only meet this goal 40 percent of the time. For basic life support, we only achieve our goal 46 percent of the time. “Public safety is a critical function of government. When there is a fire or a loved one has a heart attack, the fire department needs to be able to respond before it is too late,” said Supervisor Principi.
Prince William County has over 600 residents on 10 waiting lists for mental health services, who will wait anywhere from 28 to 1,825 days for mental health services. The Community Services Board would need to hire 34 additional staff at $4.6 million to address the needs of residents with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, severe depression, and PTSD (for our returning war veterans). “This is very disturbing news given the unmet needs and the potential safety impacts on our community and schools,” said Supervisor Principi. Supervisor Principi would like to allocate $500,212 to eliminate the waiting list for Mental Health Adult Outpatient Services.
Lastly, Prince William County has the highest class size in the state. The School Board has allocated money to help reduce the classroom size and as a good faith effort, Supervisor Principi supports matching $1,115,000 to help fund a reduction in one additional grade level.
The budget will be voted on by the Board of County Supervisors on April 29th. Supervisor Principi urges everyone to make their voices heard before adoption.
“It is my hope that these items will be funded in FY 15,” said Supervisor Principi.
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