Taxes may be going up in Prince William County after July 1, with a proposed boost in real estate tax bills, a new cigarette tax and an increase in the rate on computer equipment, a tax mostly paid by data centers. A new 4% meals tax is under discussion but would not be considered until next spring.
Under County Executive’s Chris Martino’s proposed $1.35 billion budget, the 2022 real estate tax rate remains at $1.125 per $100. But an increase in real estate assessments would add $306 to the average annual residential tax bill, bringing it to $4,675.
The county is proposing new taxes, including a 30-cent-per-pack cigarette tax that would generate an estimated $3 million per year to be spent new parks projects. Martino is also proposing a 4% meals tax for the fiscal year 2023 budget that would generate an estimated $24.5 million per year to be put toward school funding and county staffing plans.
Any decision on approving a meals tax would not happen until the spring of 2022, however.
The county executive’s budget also proposes a big hike in the business tangible computer and peripheral tax, also known as the data center tax, from $1.35 to $1.60 per $100 in assessed value.
The county’s proposed fiscal year 2022 budget will increase the amount sent to the county school system by $34.6 million, a 5.5% increase over last year’s budget. The county has a revenue sharing agreement that traditionally directs 57.23% of the county’s local tax revenue to schools.
The budget also provides increased spending on for public safety, law enforcement and judicial services. That budget adds six new police positions, half of which would go to the newly established “co-responder” program that sends mental health clinicians alongside police to answer mental health calls.
The added positions, totaling $328,000, would double the size of the co-responder program and allow them to operate on nights and weekends. In the county budget, staff writes that the existing co-responder units “have been overwhelmed with calls for service and the additional units would allow for more follow-up and outreach time.”
The budget also funds two new school resource officers for two new schools, Potomac Shores Middle School and Gainesville High School, both scheduled to open this August, and two civilian police positions to staff the new animal shelter.
Fire Station 22 in Groveton would receive funding for 14 full-time employees in the county budget.
It would also fund numerous upgrades for improvements to existing fire and rescue buildings and equipment.
The budget would also fund $382,000 in salary supplements for juvenile court services workers aimed at reducing youth recidivism and improving staff retention.
The county’s juvenile court services turnover rate is the highest of any locality in Northern Virginia at 48%, according to the county executive’s budget presentations.
Additionally, the budget funds two new assistant commonwealth’s attorney’s positions, and five new positions for the circuit court, general district court and juvenile and domestic relations court. It also maintains the county’s $350,000 salary supplement for the county’s new public defender office.
The budget would also continue to ramp up funding for the social services and community services staffing and programing in the county. That includes 10 new staffing positions for a new homeless shelter near Potomac Mills, which is proposed to open in fall of 2022.
It also funds eight new positions for the county’s benefits, employment and childcare (BECC) division that serves low-income county residents. BECC helps process applications for Medicaid, SNAP and TANF.
The proposed budget also expands funding, including six new staffing positions, to establish a child advocacy center for the investigation, treatment, intervention and prosecution of child abuse cases.
Martino will present the budget to the board next Tuesday, Feb. 16, at 7:30 p.m. The board has several budget work sessions and two public hearings coming up over the next few months before they adopt the budget in late April.
Reach Daniel Berti at firstname.lastname@example.org