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Henrico County manager says outreach was key to bond passage

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Henrico County Manager John Vithoulkas said Wednesday that community input was a key component in last week’s passage of a $511.4 million bond referendum.

“Our county thrives on engagement, and you’re a big part of it,” he said during the annual State of the County address, held at the Hilton Richmond Hotel & Spa/Short Pump.

The bond measure approved by voters on Nov. 8 will provide funding for capital projects in the areas of schools; recreation and parks; fire station and public safety; and flood prevention and stormwater drainage. More than 20 projects are planned.

The proposal put in front of voters was based on extensive feedback from community members, Vithoulkas said. More than 160 public meetings were held.

The approval was successful “because we put forward a plan that aligns with the community’s needs,” he said.

Vithoulkas, who joined the county in 1997, said outreach and “assessing and reassessing what we’re doing” are at the center of the county’s approach.

“This ensures that we remain in sync with our residents and their vision for what our community is today and what it will be years from now,” he said.

County officials also are developing Henrico Next, a comprehensive plan intended as a blueprint for the coming years.

Vithoulkas also talked about the continued focus on sports tourism.

The County Board of Supervisors in September voted to establish the Henrico Sports and Entertainment Authority, a group that is seeking to attract sports tourism. Authority Executive Director Dennis Bickmeier served as president of Richmond Raceway from 2011 until earlier this year, when he was hired by the county.

The Wednesday event was hosted by the Henrico County Economic Development Authority.

Voters in Chesterfield County on Nov. 8 also passed a $540 million bond plan. That funding package is for financing school, public safety, library, and parks and recreation projects.

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