PWC Chairman Corey Stewart was on WMAL radio out of Washington, DC on Tuesday stating that $60 million is needed to address the influx of 2,500 new students into the school system every year that has led to the largest class sizes in the Commonwealth. Stewart said that this would require a 15-20% increase in residential property taxes, quickly noting that other ways of bridging that $60 million gap should be explored.
There certainly is no need to further burden taxpayers with an additional 15-20% on top of what we already pay in property taxes.
Nearly 60% of all county tax dollars in PWC go directly to the school system under a bizarre “revenue sharing” agreement that is used almost nowhere else in the country. When it comes to spending our tax dollars, the county school board is more powerful than our Board of County Supervisors. Our elected officals, whom we elect to supervise our tax dollars (not to supervise us despite what some of them may think), annually abdicate this responsibility for more than half of the money we pay to the county.
The revenue sharing agreement between the BOCS and school system that does nothing but short-change our schools should be abolished. The BOCS should instead ask the school board to present a budget to them that prioritizes reducing class-sizes and increasing teacher pay. This will restore true BOCS oversight for the more than half of the county budget that it has turned a blind eye towards. It will also provide the school board with a tool by which they can cut excess administrative expenses and various spending follies.
If Prince William County were to go to zero-based budgeting and build a new budget from the ground-up that prioritized public safety (police / fire / rescue), education (schools / libraries), infrastructure (roads / water / sewer) and our park system, we could fully fund these core services at the levels they need to be funded at while holding the line on taxes.
Gee, placing priorities on what you spend with limited funds. Not a foreign concept for most families, but it certainly seems to be one for our county government.