Archive for June, 2012

Prince William County Zero Tolerance for Illegal Fireworks Campaign Underway

During June, Fireworks Safety Month, and continuing through the latter part of July (June 18th – July 18th), fireworks-related injuries peak; it’s during this brief period, 73 percent of fireworks-related injuries occur. In 2010, according to Consumer Product Safety Commission, emergency departments treated an estimated 8,600 fireworks-related injuries. Children under the age of 15 accounted for 40 percent of fireworks-related injuries while children and young adults under the age of 20 comprised the largest number of fireworks-related injuries (53 percent) during this time period.

In an attempt to reduce the number of fireworks-related injuries and deaths, public information and public education are vital to the community. The Fire Marshal’s Office, a division within the Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue, has initiated a Fireworks Enforcement Campaign to stop possession and use of illegal fireworks. The campaign’s slogan, Illegal Fireworks, “If You Light It, We’ll Write It!” Leave Fireworks to the Professionals is a means by which the Department is able to educate the community about the dangers of illegal fireworks while informing them about Prince William’s zero tolerance for possession and use of illegal fireworks. This year as in the past, Fire Marshals will be teaming up with Police for their annual fireworks safety initiative and deploying personnel throughout the County in an effort to prevent injury and fires due to illegal or unsafe use of fireworks. In addition, the team will write summons to individuals who possess and/or light illegal fireworks and will confiscate any and all illegal fireworks found in their possession. In Prince William County, the discharge of illegal fireworks is a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by fines up to $2,500.00 and or up to one year in jail.

Safety experts agree that the best way to protect your loved-ones from fireworks-related injuries or worse is to not use fireworks. Numerous professional organizations often provide fireworks displays for public enjoyment during the holiday and throughout the year. Check your local newspaper or web site for listings of fireworks displays in your area.

Should you choose to use legal fireworks, the Fire Marshal’s Office would like to help you celebrate safely by suggesting the following safety tips:

  • Fireworks should only be used under adult supervision.
  •  Fireworks should only be used outdoors on a driveway, sidewalk or other fire-resistant surface. Remember, fires are caused by careless handling of fireworks in areas exposed to sparks or live fireworks.
  • Never ignite fireworks during high winds where flying sparks can start a fire.
  • Keep a bucket of water handy in case sparks start a fire.
  • Be sure children around fireworks know to stop, drop and roll if their clothing catches on fire.
  • Deposit sparklers in a metal container as they may be stepped on while hot or lost in the grass and stepped on while playing.
  • Never aim or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Never try to re-ignite fireworks that malfunction or fail to go off.
  • Do not wear loose clothing when using fireworks.
  • Never experiment or make your own fireworks.
  • Never carry fireworks in your pocket.

For more information about selecting and using legal fireworks, or if you would like to safely dispose of illegal fireworks, contact the Fire Marshal’s Office at 703-792-6360, or visit our website at www.pwcgov.org/fire. Turning in illegal fireworks will not result in any fines or summons, and no questions will be asked.

BOCS Amends Rules of Procedure

On Tuesday, June 5, the Board of County Supervisors voted unanimously to amend our rules of procedure to eliminate the practice of using excess office funds to provide funding to not-for-profit groups, as well as to put strict limits on the amount of unspent funds that can be carried over from one fiscal year into the next.  I am thankful that Supervisor Candland introduced this proposal, because it gave us the opportunity to address a long standing community concern in a manner that also led to Board consensus.

Perhaps more importantly however, I am very pleased to announce that the Board also agreed to incorporate my proposal to also reduce the budget of each District Supervisors’ office budget by $20,000.  This has been very important to me and to my colleague Supervisor May, because it means that the Board truly brought reform to the way in which we utilize the funds allocated to us by the taxpayers.  The proposal that Supervisor Candland brought to the Board was an excellent start in that it looked to reform the way in which we spend our budgets.  But I have long felt that to address only HOW the money is spent fails to address the more fundamental question of HOW MUCH we spend.  The vote, together with my amendment, took that important additional step to actually reduce the amount of money that each Supervisor is allocated annually to bring our overall spending under control.  Moreover, it also returns $140,000 of the taxpayers money back to the general fund to be used for other more important community needs, or to reduce the size of future budgets.

Furthermore, the Board also added amendments recommended by Supervisor Jenkins to bring the policies that govern Supervisors’ office aides more in line with the policies that  apply to all County employees, to include a restriction against Board members allowing their staff to build up excess overtime pay; to prevent Board members from using County funds to hire political consultants as employees or contractors; and to ensure that Supervisors comply with the County policy on nepotism.  I want to thank Supervisor Jenkins for suggesting this additional layer of transparency and accountability by proposing these amendments.

I trust that this is welcome news to you, and I hope that you will join me in thanking my  colleagues for supporting policies that ensure the highest possible level of transparency and honesty in the way in which County Government is managed.

Development Agencies Revise Fee Schedules

The Building Development and Land Plan Review and Inspections fee schedules have been revised as approved by the Prince William Board of County Supervisors during FY13 budget adoption. Fee schedule revisions are effective July 1, 2012.

  • Land Development Fee Schedule – 2% across-the-board increase, rounded to the nearest dollar, and a Lot Grading Inspection Fee of $180.
  • Building Development Fee Schedule – With exceptions as noted below, BOCS approved a 2% across-the-board increase, rounded to the nearest dollar.
  • Amusement Device Fees – Virginia Amusement Device Regulations, 13 VA 5-31-100, specifies the fees to be charged in this category. However, the Code Academy Levy will be added to the base fee pursuant to Section 36-98.3 of the Code of Virginia.
  • Plan Review Filing Fees, Non-Residential – The current filing fee is based on a percentage of the final building permit fee. No increase to the filing fee is necessary.
  • Surcharges – No increase is necessary to the Code Academy, Information Technology, and Indirect Cost surcharges.

The new fee schedules are available for view at the Development Services Building, 5 County Complex Ct., Prince William, VA 22192; online at www.pwcgov.org/DDS; or via email to DDS@pwcgov.org. For more information, contact the Department of Development Services at 703-792-6930.

Board Establishes Four-Year Strategic Plan Goals

The Board of County Supervisors (BOCS) held a public work session to draft several guiding elements of the 2013-2016 Strategic Plan. The core of the guidance was the development of the County’s Vision statement and Strategic Goals to accomplish the vision. A public hearing on these elements will be held at the 2 p.m. BOCS meeting on June 19, 2012.

  • Vision Statement: Prince William County is a community of choice with a strong, diverse economic base, where families and individuals choose to live and work and businesses choose to locate.
  • Economic Development Goal: The County will provide a robust, diverse economy with more quality jobs and an expanded commercial tax base.
  • Transportation Goal: The County will provide a multi-modal transportation network that supports County and regional connectivity.
  • Education Goal: The County will provide an educational environment rich in opportunities to increase educational achievement for workforce readiness, post-secondary education and lifelong learning.
  • Human Services Goal: The County will leverage state and federal funds and community partnerships to provide human services that support self-sufficiency and help individuals and families in crisis, while working to minimize the need for crisis intervention.
  • Public Safety Goal: The County will maintain safe neighborhoods and business areas, and provide prompt responses to emergencies.

These elements will guide the Strategic Plan Team in the development of community outcomes and strategies. Residents are encouraged to provide comment on these goals during the public hearing on June 19, 2012.  Additional information about the strategic plan process can be found on the County website at www.pwcgov.org/budget. ​

County Opens Widened Route 1 at Quantico/Triangle

Across from the Iwo Jima Memorial statue at the entrance to the Marine Corps Base Quantico, the Board of County Supervisors (BOCS) cut the ribbon on the Route 1 improvements from Joplin Road to Brady’s Hill Road. This project widened Route 1 to six lanes to improve traffic flow and address flooding issues. It is part of the larger effort in the County to redevelop this important gateway to the County.

The improvements were overwhelmingly approved by voters in the 2006 Road Bond Referendum. The project is part of the revitalization of the Route 1 Corridor, and the Potomac Communities (the area east of Interstate 95 to the Potomac River). The Potomac Communities Revitalization effort strives to create livable neighborhoods; vibrant commercial areas providing services and employment opportunities; tree-lined streets that move traffic without giving up walkability; amenities such as museums, libraries, parks, schools, and historic resources linked by multi-use trails.

Working toward that vision, the project moved the utilities underground and added sidewalks, multiuse paths and landscape buffers to contribute to the area’s development into a premier residential, business, and visitor location on the Potomac River. The next phases of the widening efforts are from Dale Boulevard to Featherstone Road, and from Mary’s Way to Annapolis Way in Woodbridge.

For more information on projects in the Route 1 Corridor or throughout the County, visit www.pwcgov.org/Transportation.  NOTE: Photos of the event may be downloaded from the County’s Flickr at www.flickr.com/PrinceWilliamCounty.