Prince William ‘Slush’ Funds at Center of Debate
By URIAH KISER
WOODBRIDGE, Va. – The debate over discretionary funds in Prince William County has reached a crescendo, prompting one official to call for banning them altogether.
Discretionary funds, also dubbed “slush funds,” are monies left over to Prince William County Supervisors after the costs of operating their offices have been paid. Each supervisor has an office to serve their respective magisterial districts, each with staff to field questions and concerns from constituents.
On Saturday, Delegate Scott Lingamfelter, R-Woodbridge, Fauquier, said he would introduce legislation next year that would bar local governing boards from having discretionary funds.
“If the Supervisors feel that they have a special project they want to do, put it in front of the people at the time the budget passes when folks are focused on the process,” said Lingamfelter. “I don’t think its right to provide politicians with money that they can hand out or expend on just about anything they want. While I know they have to put each item before the board for a vote, most times this is just a formality. A more disciplined approach is required.”
The Prince William Board is expected to address the matter at Tuesday’s meeting. Neabsco District Supervisor John Jenkins since the beginning of the year has donated at least $7,350 of his funds to local schools, a library, to the Prince William / Greater Manassas Boys and Girls Clubs, and other local organizations — more than any other Supervisor in Prince William’s Potomac Communities. He said the “discretionary” term doesn’t paint the entire picture.
“The term is misused; there really aren’t any discretionary funds. The funds we do have are used to run offices and are moved around occasionally to fund certain things,” Jenkins said Sunday afternoon.
Other supervisors in the Potomac Communities have also donated to certain causes like public schools, charity walks, events, the arts, and environmental organizations, according to public meeting agendas.
Supervisor Maureen Caddigan has donated $4,150, Marty Nohe $3,400, Frank Principi $1,625, and Mike May $375 since beginning of 2012.
According to documents produced by the Prince William County Budget office, public school funding is the largest portion of the funding pie, accounting for 48 percent of the county’s $912 million budget.
The debate is also turning heads in neighboring Stafford County where Lingamfelter’s proposed legislation got the attention of Board of Supervisors Chairman Susan Stimpson. After Lingamfelter announced his pending legislation, Stimpson took to her Facebook page to share her thoughts.
“I love it when politicians grandstand. One delegate (not from Stafford!) just sent out an email update that he is going to introduce legislation to prevent local governments from having “slush” funds. I wrote him an email telling him that not all local governments are corrupt and perhaps we should meet to discuss this legislation. He said he’d have his staffer call my office. Um, yeah. I don’t have an office. And I don’t have an assistant,” Stimpson posted.
Stimpson never mentioned Lingamfelter by name, and told PotomacLocal.com that Stafford Supervisors do not have discretionary funds or individual offices or aides. Stafford does employ one Citizens Action Officer who handles questions or complaints from county residents.