Developing the budget is one of the most critical, and complex, duties with which the Board of County Supervisors is tasked. This process is a delicate balance between investing in the services that enhance our community while not overburdening the taxpayers of Prince William. It always involves tough choices. That is truer than ever as the financial realities of the COVID-19 are taking hold.
County staff has been working tirelessly to adjust the Proposed Fiscal 2021 to reflect an increased need for safety net services even as revenue projections drop. (As outlined in a March 31 presentation.) Initial adjustments include eliminating a planned 3% performance-based pay increase for County staff, putting most Capital Improvement Program projects on hold and initiating a hiring freeze. During the April 14 Board meeting, County Executive Martino will deliver a revised FY2021 Proposed Budget for public comment and Board review.
Even in this, I have hope. In addition to the staff’s quick response to changing circumstances, community members and businesses are rising to the challenge in a number of ways. At the most recent meeting of the Occoquan District Budget Committee (virtually of course!), we talked about the current lay of the land and the hard truths of the road ahead. We are in a much different place than when this group of volunteers first met a little less than a month ago.
Despite having spent countless hours reviewing the proposed budget in its current form, the committee agreed to now look at the revised budget, with an eye towards shoring up much-needed safety net services and identifying areas of potential cost savings or re-allocation. Like so many in Prince William, they are willing to share their time and talent to ensure that we safely weather this storm.
It’s always inspiring to be reminded just how blessed we are as a community, and how grateful I should be. Whenever I take to the dais, I carry the thoughts, wisdom, values and work of our residents with me, and I’m better for it.
I often wonder if I have what it takes to help guide our community through this stressful and isolating moment in our history, but with the right team as my rock, surrounded by a truly committed and caring community, and the right perspectives giving me insight, I know we will get through this. We must.