Written By: Prince William County
In her fourth State of the County address, Prince William Board of County Supervisors Chair At-Large Ann Wheeler remarked on the community’s diversity and inclusivity, investing in education, economic development, the county’s economy, collective bargaining, public safety, and transportation.
“I am thrilled to announce that our economy is thriving,” Wheeler said in her remarks. “Our internal economic development initiatives alone have resulted in $1.3 billion in capital investment in just 2022, leading to the creation and retention of over 1,700 jobs. Thanks to the resilience and determination of our community, we have not only weathered the storm but have emerged stronger than ever before. Our county has become a place where people can live, work, and play with confidence and optimism for the future.”
In 2022, the county secured more than $100 million in external funding for transportation and mobility projects, including pedestrian projects on Old Bridge Road, Gemini Way, and Mill Street, to provide safe facilities that conform to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
County transportation projects completed last year involve pedestrian safety and include sidewalks, shared-use paths, and traffic calming projects. Other projects contain environmental components meant to mitigate any adverse impacts transportation projects might have on the environment.
“The majority of funding for our active transportation projects, more than 80 percent, is from sources outside of the county revenues,” Wheeler said. “We are excited about these projects, which exemplify how Prince William County is leveraging collaboration, innovation, and strategic investment to meet current needs and set our county up for long-term success. Finally, we adopted a new Mobility Chapter of the Comprehensive Plan that, for the first time in county history, incorporates recreational trails as part of the transportation network and reduces roadway lane miles from the previous plan.”
The Board increased police pay scales and incentives in 2022 to make the Prince William County Police Department more competitive. Additionally, the Board adopted a collective bargaining ordinance for the first time in county history, allowing employees to negotiate collectively over terms and conditions of employment.
“As a Board, we are dedicated to supporting our county staff and will continue to work hard to create a supportive and fulfilling work environment. We value the contributions of our dedicated employees and are committed to helping them succeed,” Wheeler said.
The county maintained the highest possible bond rating in 2022. All three ratings agencies, Moody’s, Fitch, and S&P Global, have affirmed Prince William County’s AAA credit rating. Of more than 3,100 counties in the nation, Prince William County is one of only 49 to receive a AAA rating from the three bond ratings agencies.
“This is the highest rating available and a testament to the Board of County Supervisors’ continuous focus on making smart investments in our county while providing the necessary services to support our citizens,” Wheeler said. “The rating analysts have recognized our important progress in attracting new businesses, diversifying our tax base, and strengthening our financial condition.”
Another action the Board took in 2022, Wheeler said, was to award American Rescue Act, or ARPA, funds to aid small businesses impacted by the pandemic. More than $9 million was awarded to approximately 350 small businesses in Prince William County with its Restore Retail grant and Lift Up Lodging program.
“Our coordinated efforts to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic with ARPA funds helped our storefronts, hotels, and small businesses rebound and reimagine their futures in 2022,” Wheeler said.
Last year’s accomplishments set the stage for a prosperous 2023, Wheeler said.
Financially, Prince William County continues to thrive as the Board remains committed to its Principles of Sound Financial Management and further diversifies its tax base to maintain a stable revenue system.
“It is through the collective vision and hard work of the Board of County Supervisors, county leadership and staff, stakeholders, local business owners, and members of the community that we stand at a true turning point as we enter the new year. Together, we can achieve anything. So, let’s embrace this moment and work towards building an even brighter future for all of us.”
Wheeler thanked members of the Board for their commitment and dedication to the community. She also thanked Pete Candland, former Prince William County Gainesville District Supervisor, for his many years of service to the Board and county. Wheeler welcomed new county executive Christopher Shorter and thanked Deputy County Executive Elijah Johnson for his leadership and contributions as Acting County Executive.
In other business, during the Jan. 10, 2023, Board of County Supervisors meeting, the Board chose Occoquan District Supervisor Kenny Boddye to serve as Vice Chair of the Board for 2023. The Board also selected Potomac District Supervisor Andrea Bailey as Chair Pro Tem for 2023.