Although our Feb. 8 Board agenda appeared rather lean, it was full of robust public comment and Board discussions as we delved into three important issues: Collective Bargaining, the Capital Improvement Program, and the Racial & Social Justice Commission report. I’ve included some highlights, and the full meeting is available to view online.
Our Board majority again affirmed our support for a full collective bargaining agreement ordinance for County employees, as we explored the benefits and concerns associated with different structures for acheiving that goal. During this initial work session, we set the fundamental aspects and scope for an ordinance: Type, Eligible Employees, Bargaining Units, Election Thresholds, Certification Process, and Conditions Subject to Bargaining.
As this process moves forward, I will continue working with my colleagues to incorporate provisions that protect the interests of the County (as an organization and community) and our workers. These goals can, and should be, complementary. Giving these professionals a seat at the table demonstrates our support of their work to continually enhance the quality of life in Prince William, and will further improve our ability to recruit and retain top talent.
Capital Improvement Program (CIP):
The CIP allows for more efficient budgeting of the County’s time and funds by taking a long-range, big-picture look at facility and infrastruture needs over the course of six years. Several of the Occoquan District projects shown in the CIP (which is updated annually) are nearing completion, such as Harbor Drive Wellness Park. Others are underway or still in the design phase, such as Summit School Road Extension, Prince William Parkway & Minnieville Road Interchange, Old Bridge/Occoquan Intersection Improvement. Following conversations that I have had with the Department of Parks & Recreation and my appointed parks commissioner, I advocated for staff to consider adding the Davis Ford Park and Chinn Park lighting projects to the CIP, and supported requests by my colleagues for additional maintenance of older parks in our system.
Racial & Social Justice Commission
We closed the session with the Racial and Social Justice Commission’s presentation of its report on Prince William’s general government, policing, and education systems as they relate to the experiences of people of color in the county. (View the report presentation.)
The report, which reflects 10-months of research and public input, celebrates what Prince William does well, highlights opportunities for improvement, and makes recommendations about how to act on those opportunities. It notes: “People of color are impacted disproportionately in policing, education, and government services, as mentioned throughout the report. The Board of County Supervisors have taken great strides to ensure Prince William County is an equitable and inclusive County; however, there are areas that the County can improve.”
The commission emphasized that it did not have enough time to fully explore the cause-and-effect of many findings. For instance, it was noted that the makeup of PWC professional staff does not reflect the diversity of our County. This could reflect a number of factors, and in turn, identifying those factors could indicate the best path forward, such as developing internal and/or external mentoring programs.
The Board voted to accept the report and directed the acting County Executive to evaluate the commission’s recommendations, identifying potential action items and presenting us with options for implementation strategies, to include budget impacts. Additionally, the Board agreed that the commission should reconvene and determine how much time it would need to complete its work. I look forward to this continued dialogue.