by Jill Palermo, InsideNova

27 September 2013

“For months, the Prince William County School Board has urged county officials to re-examine the amount of money they ask housing developers to pay to local schools. Now it appears that the county Board of Supervisors is willing to at least consider the idea.

“During the board’s meeting Tuesday, Supervisor Pete Candland, R-Gainesville, asked county staff to develop a report on the how ‘proffers’ – money developers pay to offset new residents’ demands for county services such as schools, transportation, law-enforcement, parks and libraries – compare to those requested by officials in surrounding communities.

“Candland, a fiscal conservative who is nonetheless a vocal supporter of more money for local schools, represents a portion of Prince William County where rapid growth has led to overcrowding in many existing school buildings.

“In a press release issued after Tuesday’s meeting, Candland said the county not only needs to re-examine its proffer amounts but also whether new housing developments produce the tax revenue to support the new developments.

” ‘We have a crisis in education in Prince William County with the highest class sizes in the Commonwealth and underpaid classroom teachers,’ Candland said in the press release.

” ‘Prince William County’s proffer policy has not been updated in several years, and that has the effect of underfunding our schools, and the unintended consequence is that we impose an unfair burden on existing homeowners who are forced to subsidize new housing developments that do not adequately pay for the schools and county services required for new families who buy homes in those subdivisions,’ Candland added.

“Back in May, the Prince William County School Board passed a resolution asking county supervisors to reexamine proffer levels, which were last revised in 2006 and are lower than what developers are asked to pay even in lower-cost areas such as Fauquier and Stafford counties.

“School Board Member Gil Trenum, Brentsville, reiterated that request earlier this month.

“Prince William’s ‘Policy Guide for Monetary Contributions’ sets the proffer amount for single-family homes at $37,719.  Of that amount, county schools are slated to receive $14,462 every time a building permit is pulled on a new home.

“In Loudoun County, however, developers are asked to pay more than $51,000 for every home built – more than $34,000 of which is slated just for schools, according to figures provided by Prince William County Schools staff.”