Prince William County staff and the state of Virginia should find ways to allow for real-estate tax exemptions for religious institutions that own vacant land, the Prince William Board of County Supervisors directed Tuesday.
About 30 church leaders and congregation members told county supervisors during an evening board session that the tax assessor’s office was too strict when it comes to taxes on their charitable nonprofits, which are generally tax-exempt.
One of the prime examples is New Life Gainesville church, which is taxed on about half of its property that has only trees and streams on it. While the church building and parking lot remain exempt from taxes, the remainder of its wooded property is taxed about $1,000 per year, leaders have said.
Because it’s in the county’s protected rural area, the church can’t sell or subdivide the land. County officials say they are abiding by state law, which says that land can only be tax-exempt when it is used “exclusively” for religious use.
New Life’s situation, or a similar predicament, is shared by a total of 13 churches in Prince William, according to county officials. Other pastors said Tuesday they had run into the county tax collector when it comes to vacant land that they have bought and plan to build on in the future
The Prince William County Revenue Stabilization Fund is a separate fund modeled in part on the state Revenue Stabilization Fund that was created back in 1990. The state fund was created as a result of a nearly 2 billion dollar shortfall that occurred because of an economic downfall. Determined to be more prepared in the future, the State of Virginia created the Revenue Stabilization Fund also known as the Virginia Rainy Day fund. It may be researched at this state website.
The state fund holds an amount equal to about 10% of its annual budget in this fund.
Prince William County is known statewide for its economic responsibility. It falls into a unique category of jurisdictions in that it has a AAA bond rating, which is very difficult to achieve. Only 0 .4% of all jurisdictions have earned this distinction.
What is the RSF? The RSF is money intended to stabilize revenue collections. It isn’t for funding Blue Bird Bus Tours or to put in libraries, bike paths or ball fields. It is to cover the unexpected financial contingencies that occur such as housing market fluctuations which greatly impact PWC revenue collection since the great majority of taxes collected are residential based.Read more…
Sometimes events happen and the earth screeches to a halt on its axis, then abruptly starts rotating in the opposite direction. Today was such a day. Hold on to your seats. Mistress Moon and Elena agree with Corey Stewart.
Corey defended the practice of saving money. Is it possible to over-save? Is it possible to save too much money for a rainy day? For an emergency? For when times aren’t as good? Corey says no. It is fiscally responsible to save more than you need. I only heard one person disagree with him. That was Pete Candland. Pete not only disagreed with him but he rolled his eyes, shook his head and made facial gestures. To me, the behavior was disrespectful to his colleagues. Additionally, what Pete proposed or questioned showed his lack of understanding of how large municipalities are run. He appears to miss the complexities of a budget this size.
Corey was right. In fact, he sounded downright reasonable and responsible. He was back to being that old eagle scout.
In order to keep the AAA bond rating, we must have $10 million in the contingency fund. That is 1% of the annual budget. Prince William County, because of the unknown variables involved with sequestration and with the state requiring more from localities for VRS, is erring on the side of caution with what might appear to some to be more savings than are needed. We have about $20 million or 2% of total budget in the Revenue Stabilization Fund, twice as much as required to have the AAA bond rating. Great that we can handle emergencies. That is the fiscally responsible thing to do. If we do have contingencies, then we won’t dip below the designated level.
For Pete to criticize the county for saving too much money sounds out of touch and and frankly, fiscally irresponsible. Saving more than is needed is what my mother used to call a fine fault.
It’s time. I was going to wait until July 16 to put up a thread about budget woes of the county because I believe in working with facts rather than with rumor and gossip. I will continue to wait. However, a lot of people have something to say about this latest event which as I understand it, is a matter of under-budgeting. You know, one of those nasty little mathematical human error types of mistakes. No one has stolen anything or tried to gip the taxpayers out of their hard earned dollars.
There is a certain contingency in the county who want to fry various county employees and supervisors. There is another contingency who hate a witch hunt and who want facts. This is a spot for facts about the county and how you want it governed.
Please, send us you FACTS.
From Channel 4 News 11:00 PM 7/2/13
Since some of the local blogs have decided to beat the idea of the County Logo to death, I have decided to beat the county seal to death. Why? Just look at it. When was the seal adopted?
Beating the logo to death
At first glance, it appears we have a white hand holding a scale over a marijuana plant. Now there’s a good model for all the kiddies. NOT! Are those scales for weighting out justice or are they for weighing out how much substance?
Actually, it is supposed to be a tobacco plant. I guess that makes it all better. When was tobacco last grown as a crop in Prince William County? Probably a lot longer ago than pot was last grown. How about a nice new county seal if we want something to fight over. County art students could compete and we could all vote on the final selections by mail. One house, one vote. Maybe we could even put it on the ballet for the state elections if we hurried along.
Meanwhile, the pot/tobacco plant needs to go. How about a logo that includes the battlefield? That is surely our biggest tourist attraction. putting the Bobbitts on the seal would just not be appropriate!
Does this seal seem inappropriate to you all or is it just me? Any ideas on another seal? Is the logo being beaten to death? Why is Pete Candland leading the charge of tilting at this windmill rather than John Jenkins who is the person who really voiced his opposition to the blue logo in the first place? Perhaps their efforts would be better spent replacing our pot plant county seal.
The destructive nature of these constant attacks on the ever widening circle of county employees must end. The climate within the McCoart building is one of mistrust and confidence levels have been diminished. Whether it be for a desk, a toilet, a sink, an Easter egg hunt or the process of finding a new logo, these constant investigations and searching for wrong doing is no way to run county government. It’s like big brother is watching every move just to see if they can catch wrong doing. Who can work effectively in such an environment.
We witnessed a serious smack down during Supervisors time today. Supervisor Peter Candland, for unknown reasons, decided that it would be a good idea to attack Supervisor Frank Principi over this continued, ad nauseum, discussion over a county logo.
Pete submitted a three page, single spaced, diatribe demanding to know every single detail of who, what, when, why, where of the county directive to obtain a new logo for marketing strategies. My question is why? Why has this issue risen to the level of such intense scrutiny? Like there was some kind of fraud involved. Was it the best process or best logo choice, probably not, but the insistence on making this logo issue the next Benghazi conspiracy needs to stop.
There was an “all call” fundraising e-mail that was penned by Robyn Candland, excoriating the process and targeting Frank Principi as the “democrat” villain. Pete chose to turn his need for every nook and cranny to be inspected from a BOCS issue into a FOIA need. That is not how it should have been handled. Frank apparently thought the level of questions were over the top and formally objected . Having read them and included them in this post, I would say that I agree.
I just ran over to a local blog to see whose character was being assassinated today. I expected it to be a three-fer. It exceeded my expectations.
Let’s see….Grant, Kaczmarek, Peacor and Nohe, the usual suspects. They were basically mimicked, called liars, stooges, stupid and disgusting. Give it a rest, bloggers. Handle the issues without the smug air of superiority, the demeaning tones, and the name calling.
I don’t mind governmental transparency or the questioning of govt actions. I mind the name calling and lack of professionalism by the bloggers. If history repeats itself, there will be some bull crap printed about Moonhowler and the woodshed. Please don’t. Just improve, develop some professionalism, and stop name calling.
(A huge thank you to Steve Randolph for digging out the information!)
Part 1: The Players
Once upon a time during the first Dark Ages in Prince William County, in the year 1972, there were 7 magisterial districts and 7 supervisors. There was no at-large chairman. He was elected from the ranks. There was a school board. Each of the 7 members were appointed by the supervisor for that district. Well, there should have been a school board.
Five of the supervisors were new and 2 were incumbents.
From a frustrated friend of mine who prefers anonymity:
The $60,000 a year civil servants are who people turned to this past week in both Boston and in Texas. Public safety and support was mighty important. Yet the BOCS in Prince William County want to take a holiday away from this very group of people. Additionally, in the Texas plant explosion, a science teacher was the lead rescue person in getting the elderly and infirmed out of the convalescent home.
Taking a holiday away from municipal employees devalues their worth. Already Prince William County employees are overworked and treated disrespectfully. Just read a local blog. It has been this way since the crash. Many have no had respectable raises. Individuals are cannon fodder for local bloggers and those sitting around with an ax to grind.
Around 40 Prince William County residents weighed in on the county’s proposed budget Tuesday night at the McCoart administration building, most of them telling the Board of County Supervisors that the county needs more robust programs and not the cuts some supervisors are mulling.
Supervisors have, thus far, been split on both the proposed real-estate tax rate and whether to enhance or cut county programs. But many who showed up Tuesday said that cuts to the blueprint laid out by County Executive Melissa S. Peacor — which provides funding for additional police and firefighters, upgrades school fields, buys voting machines and hires school resource officers to safeguard the county’s middle schools, among other initiatives — would prove harmful.
If one reads the local conservative blogs one would think that most of the county wanted to cut the budget and move to a flat tax plan. Not so.
A top MARTA official tasked with helping overhaul the transit authority’s finances and business model has been indicted by a grand jury on charges of embezzlement.
The victim: the Washington, D.C., chapter of the Institute for Internal Auditors, an association whose members guard their employers against fraud.
“How did he think he would ever be able to get away with it?” said Michael Dixon, the chief deputy commonwealth’s attorney for Prince William County in the Virginia suburbs of Washington. “In this business, it is hard to be surprised sometimes.”
Perking up ears….did I hear Prince William County? Yes, I did. Who might this sterling character be? What top MARTA [Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority] official would have the Prince William County commonwealth’s attorney commenting on embezzlement?
Does anyone remember a character named Robin Howard? How about the kerfluffle that arose when Melissa Peacor recommended that the internal audit department for the county be let go? I seem to recall her being excoriated and ridiculed on blogs for suggesting that audits be handled differently. She was accused of cover up and basically picking on the folks. The Sheriff (of Notthingham) said “ Surely there will be a fair hearing for these whistle-blowers and they will not be summarily dismissed because Peacor wants to settle another score.”
It is no doubt this statement arises from my leadership of the nation’s toughest crackdown on criminal illegal immigration
In Prince William County, if you are arrested for a crime and it is determined that you are here illegally, then our law enforcement officers hand you over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Every person who is being arrested is checked, regardless of age, sex, race, etc. If upholding the Rule of Law makes me “an immigrant basher” than let them name call, I am willing to deal with such petty insults for the safety of Prince William County’s 425,000+ residents. Since we enacted our illegal immigration policy, there has been a 47.8% drop in violent crime and we have handed over more than 6,000 criminal illegal aliens to ICE.
One of my husband’s favorite sayings is “Captain Obvious” when someone says something so incredibly, well, obvious. There are parents in the PWC community that have suddenly come to the realization that our class sizes are woefully too full, so full, that quality instruction is being jepoardized. PWC school has reached the state’s legal limit for class size.
PWCS raised class sizes to the state limits this school year in response to current budget constraints. In the executive summary of the 2014 budget, Walts notes that reductions of teacher staffing ratios (or increases in class sizes) have led to savings of $4.3 million at the middle-school level and $5.3 million at the high school level. Walts also notes that next year’s budget does not restore those cuts.
In response to concerns about class sizes, Walts’s office has said it would cost $15 million annually to reduce average class sizes by one student at all levels. The Code of Virginia sets the following maximum class-size limits: 29 for kindergarten classes; 30 for grades one through three; and 35 for grades four through six. English classes are limited to 24 in grades one through 12, otherwise there are no state maximum class-size limits for grades seven and above, according to Dena Rosenkrantz, an attorney with the Virginia Education Association.
After taking several votes that ended up in a 4-4 tie, the Board of County Supervisors finally settled on an advertised tax rate of $1.195 which will amount to an average increase of 3.5%. This rate might go lower, it just cannot go any higher. The supervisors who supported the higher tax rate that passed were Caddigan, Nohe, Principi, May, and Jenkins. Stewart, Covington, and Candland voted against this rate.
Good for Caddigan, Nohe, Principi, May, and Jenkins to give us enough wiggle room to look at all scenarios. Teachers need a raise, a step increase and smaller class sizes. More school resource officers are needed. We need more police officers. Basically, if you talk to county employees, you will hear that they often do the work of 2 people. There doesn’t seem to be enough money to update IT products that would make the job of running a county easier.
Pete Candland gave an interesting presentation that called for increased money for teachers, more police officers and an investment in parks. What he didn’t explain to my satisfaction was where the money was coming from. He vaguely referenced FTE and carry over funds but I am not sure how that would work. It sounds like the county needs to fill those empty positions. Additionally, the increased money for teachers was not an across the board raise or step increase. Instead it was merit pay.
A local leader is changing his mind about the presence of officers in schools in the wake of the school shooting that killed 26 people last month in Newtown, Conn.
Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Cory Stewart originally pushed to cut the number of police officers in county schools due to budget problems. He estimated the cuts could save around $500,000 in the new fiscal budget.
However, Stewart is now pushing to increase the number of school resource officers throughout the county. Read more…