Wheeler delivers State of Prince William County: Highlights Economy, Collective Bargaining

Ann Wheeler, Chair of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors.

In her fourth address to the State of the County, Ann Wheeler, Chair of Prince William’s Board of County Supervisors, noted the diversity and inclusiveness of the community, which encompasses education, economic development, the county’s economy, collective bargaining, public safety and transportation invested.

“I am pleased to report that our economy is thriving,” Wheeler said in her remarks. “Our internal economic development initiatives alone have resulted in $1.3 billion in capital investments in 2022 alone, which has resulted in the creation and preservation of over 1,700 jobs. Thanks to the resilience and determination of our community, we not only weathered the storm, we emerged from it stronger than ever. Our county has become a place where people can live, work and play with confidence and optimism about the future.”

In 2022, the county secured more than $100 million in outside funding for transportation and mobility projects, including pedestrian projects on Old Bridge Road, Gemini Way and Mill Street, to provide safe facilities compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act correspond.

The county’s transit projects completed last year address pedestrian safety and include sidewalks, shared pathways and traffic calming projects. Other projects include environmental components designed to mitigate any adverse environmental impacts of transportation projects.

“Most of the funding for our active transportation projects, more than 80 percent, comes from sources outside of the county’s revenue,” Wheeler said. “We are excited about these projects, which exemplify how Prince William County uses collaboration, innovation and strategic investment to meet current needs and prepare our county for long-term success. Finally, we passed a new mobility chapter of the comprehensive plan that, for the first time in county history, includes recreational trails as part of the transportation network and reduces 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. In addition, for the first time in the district’s history, the board passed a collective bargaining ordinance that allows employees to collectively negotiate terms and conditions of employment.

“As a board of directors, we are committed to supporting our district employees 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,” said Wheeler.

The county maintained the highest possible bond rating in 2022. All three rating agencies, Moody’s, Fitch and S&P Global, have affirmed Prince William County’s AAA credit rating. Out of more than 3,100 counties in the country, Prince William County is one of only 49 to be rated AAA by the three bond rating agencies.

“This is the highest rating available and is a testament to the Board of County Supervisors’ continued focus on making smart investments in our county while providing the necessary services to support our citizens,” Wheeler said. “The rating analysts recognized our important progress in attracting new businesses, diversifying our tax base and strengthening our financial position.”

Another action the board took in 2022, Wheeler said, was to allocate American Rescue Act (ARPA) funds to support small businesses impacted by the pandemic. More than $9 million has been awarded to approximately 350 small businesses in Prince William County through the Restore Retail Grant and Lift Up Lodging program.

“Our coordinated efforts to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic with ARPA funding helped our storefronts, hotels and small businesses recover and reshape their futures in 2022,” Wheeler said.

The achievements of the past year are setting 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 continues to diversify its tax base to maintain a stable revenue system.

“Through the collective vision and hard work of the Board of County Supervisors, county leadership and staff, stakeholders, local business owners and community members, we are at a true tipping point as the new year begins. Together we can achieve anything. So let’s embrace this moment and work towards building an even better future for all of us.”

Wheeler thanked the board members for their dedication and service to the community. She also thanked Pete Candland, former Prince William County Gainesville District Supervisor, for his 111 years of service. Candland resigned after signing a deal to sell his home as part of the Prince William Digital Gateway, a development on more than 800 acres adjacent to Manassas National Battlefield Park that has been approved for data center construction.

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Wheeler welcomed the new District Chairperson, Christopher Shorter, and thanked Deputy District Chairperson Elijah Johnson for his leadership and contribution as acting District Chairperson. Shorter is now the highest-paid local government executive in the Washington, DC area with an annual salary of $350,000, surpassing Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser.

During the Board of County Supervisors meeting on January 10, 2023, the Board elected Occoquan District Supervisor Kenny Boddye as the Board’s Vice Chair for 2023. The Board also elected Potomac District Supervisor Andrea Bailey as the Pro Tem Chair for 2023.

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