Up until COVID-19 hit the area, the county was projecting a revenue budget surplus of approximately $5.7 million for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2020, according to Prince William County Executive Chris Martino.
Martino recently briefed the Prince William Board of County Supervisors on the fiscal impact the pandemic is likely to have on the county’s budget.
“In the last few weeks, things have changed dramatically. We will continue to monitor things and update you as we go along,” Martino told the Board. “At this point, we’re looking at a $2.4 million shortfall in our revenues. So, that’s an $8.1 million swing in three weeks.”
To save money, Martino instituted a hiring freeze, focused spending on core services and suspended capital projects that are not currently under contract so staff can evaluate whether the project should continue or be deferred.
Martino also proposed that the county maintain its reserves at the end of the fiscal year with no anticipated end-of-year draw down and has told the department directors to discontinue any discretionary spending.
“Given those actions, I believe we can bring our budget back into balance and end the year with a small net surplus,” Martino said.
Additionally, in Fiscal Year 2021, the library system revenues will be approximately $1 million less with the withdrawal of the City of Manassas Park from our regional library system. The transient occupancy tax generated by hotel stays and tourism is projected to be down $800,000, and the Parks, Recreation and Tourism summer programs will not earn $2.5 to $3 million in fee revenues by the time the COVID-19 virus peaks in the latter half of May or early June.
“That’s when we would be opening our pools. Golf courses would be in operation by then. Summer camps kicking off. There’s a pretty significant impact to the revenue picture in our parks, rec and tourism,” said Martino.
Offsetting many of these expenses are deferred maintenance on golf courses, keeping pools closed, personnel and other maintenance, Martino said.
The county stands to collect approximately $27.9 million less in general revenue at the proposed real estate tax rate of $1.145 per 100 of assessed value under the revised revenue forecast for Fiscal Year 2021 given the current economic conditions.
To save $18 million, Martino suggested to the board that the county delay a 3 percent pay-for-performance increase for county employees; and pause staffing plans for police and fire and rescue, courts and sheriff, among other things.
The board is scheduled for a budget recap during its afternoon session on April 14, and a required budget public hearing is scheduled for that same evening. The Board’s budget markup is scheduled for the evening session on April 21, with the budget adoption set for the evening of April 28.