The Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors on Wednesday unanimously approved an $806.8 million general fund budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
This budget season went smoother than the previous year’s, when county officials cut nearly $52 million from spending plans due to the coronavirus pandemic. Even as the pandemic continues, the upcoming year’s budget is $53.4 million, or 7.1%, above the current budget.
“What you learned as an organization and what the public was reminded of during COVID was things like parks, libraries, those types of items really do play a vital role in the overall health of the community,” said Matt Harris, deputy county administrator for finance, in an interview.
Chesterfield libraries became early voting centers, vaccine registration sites and learning pods for students attending virtual classes.
Over the next five years, the county plans to provide an additional $3.6 million for library staffing and materials. Over the next few years, the county looks to spend $52 million to replace the Enon library, add a potential library near the current Clover Hill branch, and renovate the LaPrade and Ettrick libraries.
While Chesterfield received $61.5 million in federal stimulus funding to assist with the pandemic, the proposed budget does not assume potential future funding.
“COVID has taught us a lot about our workforce and how flexible we need to be. We have a glossary in the back of the budget and we took out [the words] ‘snow day,’ and we took ‘compression’ out of the glossary because neither one of those things are topics that we’re going to deal with again,” Harris said.
A portion of this year’s budget seeks to address salary compression for 1,300 Chesterfield public safety employees. The county will spend $13.8 million this coming fiscal year to kick-start a three-year plan to revert years of underpaying veteran employees, with only a slight pay difference between longtime employees and new hires.
The county also will provide all general government employees with a 2% raise in January 2022.
Chesterfield County Public Schools also plans to address salary compression among teachers, over three years, beginning this next fiscal year. Plans call for the system to spend $25.2 million to fix teacher salaries and provide a 2% raise for all other staff.
The county eliminated the phrase “snow day” because employees can now work from home during inclement weather.
Supervisors also unanimously approved increasing residential water and wastewater bills by $1.50 per month, from $57.67 to $59.17. The increase is intended to help offset operating and capital costs.
Installation of residential meters will increase by $120, from $80 to $200, because of new and advanced metering systems, officials said.
Chesterfield is maintaining its real estate tax rate at 95 cents per $100 of assessed value. While the tax rate remains the same, the average Chesterfield home assessment will rise approximately 4.25% this year, according to the county.