A proposed Fiscal Year 2019 budget for Chesterfield County contains numerous advances, according to county official Matt Harris.
Harris, the deputy county administrator for finance and administration, presented a report on the proposed $711 million budget to the Board of Supervisors on March 14.
The budget “is responsive to the information we received” at community meetings last fall, he said.
The budget proposes a 1-cent cut to the real estate property tax rate, a 3.5-percent increase in bimonthly sewer and water rates and an increase in the one-time storm water maintenance fee for new residential and commercial development in the Swift Creek watershed. The budget also includes $2 million in reductions through turnover and an operational arrangement with the Health Department, Harris said.
The many advances will largely be paid for through increases in assessed property values, he said. Real estate property valuations are increasing by an average of 3.7 percent for residential and 1 percent for commercial. These increased assessments will provide the county a 4-percent increase in property tax revenue, which accounts for 51 percent of the budget.
Among the advances touted by Harris include: 2-percent merit increases for school personnel, targeted pay increases for substitute teachers, rebuilds of five elementary schools, expansion of Matoaca Middle School and consolidation onto one campus, increase in starting pay for sheriff’s deputies to $40,500 by July 1, one new social services position to assist able-bodied benefit recipients find and maintain jobs, a 2.3-percent pay raise for qualified general government employees, eight new firefighter positions that will support 24-7 staffing of the Harrowgate Station, three new full-time police department positions including a logistics technician for the property room, a strategic crime analyst to bring about “smarter” deployment of officers, an opioid outreach coordinator, five part-time officers, and earlier replacement of police vehicles.
Chesterfield Fire & EMS Chief Edward “Loy” Senter Jr. said the county’s population, which is now 340,000 and larger than cities such as Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis, has increased 7.5 percent since the 2010 Census. As a result, Fire & EMS expects to receive 42,000 calls this year, which would set a new record.
The increase in starting pay for sheriff’s deputies should help reduce turnover, which has been 66 percent over the last five years, according to Lt. Col. Matt Wilkerson. “Thirty deputies a year are leaving us,” he said, adding that 74 percent left voluntarily.