By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: Jan. 28, 2018 | 2:45 p.m.
PRINCE GEORGE – The dust has settled following the county’s first-ever staggered term elections and at the end of the day, two new supervisors were sworn in during a late December ceremony, bringing new faces to the Prince George County Board of Supervisors.
Even though the board met for the first time on January 3 as part of their annual organizational meeting where a new chairman and vice-chair are selected for the coming year, January 9 marked the first business meeting and work session for the county’s newest supervisors Floyd Brown, Jr. and Marlene Waymack.
During the roughly hour-long meeting and hour-long work session prior, both Brown and Waymack were active in the discussion and handling of county business during the meeting while taking part in a number of presentations during the early stages of the 7 p.m. regular session.
Following the meeting, both Brown and Waymack opened up and shared their thoughts on going from citizen, to candidate, to supervisor.
“There is such a continuity between the Board,” Brown remarked. “We communicate with one another. We make sure that we are familiar with the topics that are going to come up during the discussions.”
He continued, “We want to make sure that know that we are here for Prince George County. There are no hidden agendas here. I love the way we are working together and moving forward to do what is right for Prince George.”
Fellow supervisor Waymack echoed Brown comments, calling her first day of service on the board during a regular meeting a humbling experience.
“You feel very small in that situation and you want to make sure that you do the best you can do,” she remarked. “It is also a very good experience to know that we have so many people working for good in Prince George,” referring to the praise given to members of the county’s staff, including General Service, Fire and EMS, and Police during the Jan. 9 meeting following the powerful winter storm that lashed the area and ushered in bitterly cold temperatures that forces workers into action to keep buildings and vital systems functioning.
“I am looking forward to serving on some of the committees I have been assigned to,” Waymack continued. “I am looking forward to meeting and working with these people who do all this great work in the county.”
In the coming days and weeks, business will be picking up for supervisors as they prepare to enter their annual budget discussions with a work session planned for early February. Similar to past years, supervisors will have to balance a wishlist of requests from county departments and the county school division with the available funding, including a multimillion-dollar proposal from Prince George County Public Schools to deal with two of their aging schools.
In August of last year, supervisors were presented a proposal by then-Prince George School Board Chairman Kevin Foster, PGCPS Core Committee head William Young, and Superintendent Renee Williams to replace Beazley and Walton Elementary Schools with two new schools, citing their age and security concerns since both campuses are open-air facilities.
At that time, officials estimated the construction of one 750-student school would cost roughly $25 million, meaning two schools would total approximately $50 million. To put it in perspective, North Elementary, opened in 2008 and a 750-student school cost roughly $21 million.
That $50 million price tag doesn’t include a proposal to extend the life of Prince George High School, which officials said would add a minimum of $30 million to the project’s cost and that could rise to $50 million if a “technical wing” and other enhancements to the school are part of the project.
Then-Supervisor and Chairman of the Board Bill Robertson explained the daunting challenge of funding the school division’s proposal.
“To go into this much debt would result in an astronomical tax increase,” Robertson said. “$80 million is way more than we have we have in debt currently and that’s just for one thing, not including fire services and other departments.”
With this item likely to lead discussions during the budget building process, both Brown and Waymack said they are spending time with county staff to get briefed on as much information as possible ahead of their February budget workshop.
“They provide us with handouts that we review and hopefully they are able to guide us to those items that are most important,” Waymack explained.
“I have time scheduled with [County Administrator Percy] Ashcraft to begin looking through what things they have done in the past,” Brown remarked. “There was also a [Virginia Association of Counties training session where they talked about the budgetary process and that was very helpful.”
With things such as budgetary matters and other vital issues on their plates, both Brown and Waymack said they are committed to serving the needs of their communities that elected them and the best interests of the county as a whole.
“This is all about service,” Brown remarked. “This is not about a pat on the back. It is about being out in the community, finding out what is on their mind and trying to support that.”
“While we may not agree on everything, when they see their representative is out there and they can call then, that means a lot,” he added. “We are making a point to make sure people know who their representative is.”
“I feel that everyone on the board is truly dedicated to doing the best job they can for Prince George,” Waymack said. “I really feel that we are a team.”