Tom Jackman from the Washington Post wrote an outstanding article on the uniqueness of our Discretionary funds in PWC compared to all other Northern Virginia Counties.
In Prince William County, the Board of Supervisors has access to a fund that no other Northern Virginia jurisdiction offers its governing body: a “discretionary fund,” which is really just the money left over after the expenses of running the district office are spent.
I believe my favorite quote was from Jacqueline Byers, research director for the National Association of Counties.
Jacqueline Byers, research director for the National Association of Counties, said the number of counties with discretionary funds has dwindled greatly in recent years, because of “abuse. We did see occasionally a little too much discretion,” and that county officials sometimes traded approval of each other’s pet projects.
“The counties that decided to keep them, decided to put guidelines in that they could use,” Byers said. Jim Campbell, the executive director of the Virginia Association of Counties, said discretionary funds were “not a common practice” in Virginia.
Gee, ya think there is the likelihood for abuse? That is what Wally seems incapable of admitting, that gving 100 grand of taxpayer money to your wife’s charity wreaks of impropriety. My belief is that being in elected office should be a disadvantage not an advantage. Haven’t we all heard of those “contests” where employees friends and family are ineligible for the winnings. Why is government any different. Family and friends should be ineligible for direct government donations to avoid even a hint of preferential treatment.
Even Corey admits this concern in the statement he gave the reporter.
Stewart, the current board chairman, said, “I personally don’t do it. I don’t know if I ever felt comfortable, even when I was a district supervisor, giving to charitable organizations from a government account. Even though it’s well-intentioned, it’s been controversial. For me, it’s not worth the controversy.”
Almost 1 million dollars has been collected from Supervisors in the past several years. Does anyone else have a problem with this cause I sure do. I hope citizens will continue to put pressure on the Board to change this practice. Apparently Corey’s dismissive remark about citizen participation demonstrates his flippant attitude towards our concerns regarding fiscal responsibility.
Stewart said the issue of whether the supervisors should have discretionary funds “comes up like clockwork every three to four years. And then it goes away.”
Corey, I imagine you are hopeful that this will “go away”. My hope instead is that he will take a leadership role and address this backwards way of “doing business” in PWC.