PW County’s “Principles of Sound Financial Management” and Comprehensive Plan revision
The Board of County Supervisors is planning to update the county’s Principles of Sound Financial Management. The revised principles will still include three key statements regarding the financial health of the county.
Those three statements should guide the revision of the Transportation, Land Use, and Environment chapters of the Comprehensive Plan, if we want to emphasize local jobs, low property taxes, and economic stability of the county.
Right now, all three proposed drafts of the Land Use Chapter, and the draft of the Transportation Chapter approved by the Planning Commission, are fiscally irresponsible. Only the draft of the Environment Chapter is designed to reduce county costs and face long-term economic realities.
If the Board of County Supervisors considered the financial impacts by 2030 of the proposed long-term Comprehensive Plan updates… the need for dramatic revisions in Land Use and Transportation drafts would become clear.
The key statements are in the Economic Development section of the Principles of Sound Financial Management:
- The County shall continue to expand and diversify its economic base by attracting industrial and commercial firms to the County. Special emphasis should be given to industrial and commercial enterprises that will employ the local labor force….
- The County will endeavor to utilize a network of public facilities that link planned industrial and commercial areas with its growing residential areas.
- The County will endeavor to increase, to the greatest degree possible, its commercial/industrial tax base and at place professional employment within the County.
It’s fiscally responsible to invest in attracting employers and new jobs to Prince William between now and 2030.
It’s fiscally irresponsible to encourage residents to keep working outside the county, in office buildings where commercial property taxes will go to Fairfax, DC, or other jurisdictions.
It’s lunacy to plan for Prince William to stay a bedroom community through 2030, with high property taxes to pay for a huge and expensive school system.
If we invest in just commuter roads and transit, transportation upgrades that just help PW County residents get to work in other jurisdictions – we’re nuts. We need to upgrade our capacity to get back and forth across our own county. We need to connect places in Prince William, so residents can use transit to get to job centers inside the county (especially Quantico Marine Corps Base and Innovation).
Every dollar we spend helping PW County residents commute to Tysons Corner/DC just digs PW County deeper into a perpetual “we gotta build more schools, so increase property taxes” bedroom community hole. We need local roads and local transit, not commuter roads and commuter transit.
It’s irresponsible bait-and-switch politics to proclaim that PW County wants new jobs, but then undercut the advantages of Prince William’s remaining natural environment, our “green infrastructure.” We’re less urbanized, we have open spaces, and we’re closer to the mountains. Our natural environment gives Prince William a competitive advantage to attract companies that will create local jobs.
Our strong selling points are our natural setting, together with a highly-skilled local workforce that hates commuting and wants local jobs. So why would we keep paving over the green spaces with “centers” that would sprawl across the landscape, like popcorn spilled from the Ferris wheel at the fair? Why starve the PRTC bus system – but throw money at Metrorail and VRE extensions (or a ferry) that would just suck local workers out of the county every morning?
Prince William need to invest in the future – but we need to invest in the right stuff. The county is below its Level of Service (LOS) standards for active and passive recreation acreage, as well as roads.
Every future county bond issue for expanding roads should focus on roads that improve transportation within Prince William County.
Every future county bond issue for expanding roads should be matched, dollar for dollar, with the same amount of funding for expanding local parks, trails, and open space.
Those investments would be fiscally responsible. Investments in local transportation and green infrastructure would reshape the county to match the vision in the Strategic Plan and the Comprehensive Plan by 2030.