Prince William County is looking for efficiencies and cost reductions in the next budget in order to handle expected tax revenue decreases over the next two years. I spent a little time going through the various agency proposals, which looks a little bit like a half shift towards the zero-based budgeting the county should be doing, and the typical budgeting farce that’s normally done. It’s fascinating to see what agencies are telling the board would be impacted by various levels of spending cuts, and what isn’t included and is apparently such a core function that it can’t withstand spending cuts.
Here are some of the items being ponied up as a spending cut options:
- Eliminate Criminal Alien Unit (Rule of Law Resolution Component)
- Eliminate Crossing Guards
- Eliminate Neighborhood Watch
- Reduce EMS staffing and availability
- Reduce Section 287(g) Program Activity
- Eliminate jail inmate programs (education, etc.)
- Cease participation in conferences
- Eliminate employee training in use of Adobe Acrobat and Microsoft Office
- Reduce GIS Mapping support/development (Information Technology)
Here are a few things that aren’t included:
- Reduce Police Communications Position from 1st. Sergeant to Civilian or Officer
- Eliminate Police Mounted Unit
- Reduce/Eliminate Police Motorcycle Unit
- Freeze Commercial Software purchases & transition to Open Source Software
- Transition desktop software from Microsoft Office to Open Office
Some of these proposals are truly frightening, and some of them make you wonder why we had been paying for them in the first place. Hopefully during the budget retreat the Supervisors can get more detailed information on the spending plans of the various agencies and find out what pet projects/low value initiatives can be cut in order to fund core responsibilities.
As usual, I’m not impressed much by the information the various agencies are willing to reveal to the Board of Supervisors about how they’re spending our tax dollars. Looking at this list of potential savings, there’s a lot here that seems to be missing, and a lot of that has to do with the refusal by county staff to identify in anything but the broadest aggregated terms what they’re spending our tax dollars on.
Perhaps some readers would be interested in browsing through the available information and coming up with some of their own suggestions about where county government can economize so we can give our elected officials some ammo when they have their annual kabuki dance with the county staff.
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