Plan retains 87-cent tax rate, supports core services, expands tax relief, fully funds schools
Henrico County Manager John A. Vithoulkas on Tuesday presented to the Board of Supervisors a proposed budget for the next fiscal year that retains an 87-cent real estate tax rate while supporting schools and other core services, expanding GRTC Transit System service and enhancing tax-relief programs for businesses and older residents.
The proposed budget for fiscal 2018-19 totals $1.3 billion across all operating funds, an increase of 3.6 percent from the current year’s plan. The proposed general fund, which supports most governmental operations, totals $871.9 million, an increase of 3.8 percent.
“The proposed budget moves Henrico forward in every way,” Vithoulkas said. “It fully funds the School Board’s request and supports our employees with a well-earned salary increase. It also supports public safety operations and expands the ability of residents to move throughout our borders with a strategic expansion of GRTC transit service.
“Further, it makes Henrico more attractive to businesses by increasing the exemption from BPOL taxes, and it establishes a new tool to revitalize distressed areas within our community. Lastly, the budget allows Henrico to continue offering an exceptional quality of life along with the lowest tax burden of any large locality in Virginia.”
Highlights of the proposed budget include:
- No change to the real estate tax rate of 87 cents per $100 of assessed value. Henrico’s real estate tax rate has not increased during the past 40 years;
- A $485.1 million operating budget for Henrico County Public Schools, as requested by the School Board. It also would support the addition of 60 positions to provide planning periods for elementary teachers; the continuation of the Achievable Dream Academy and the CodeRVA regional high school; a new young scholars program at Wilder Middle School and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) integration at all middle schools; an additional assistant county attorney position for special education cases; and the ongoing school bus replacement program;
- Funding for increased police operations, a five-year replacement program for body-worn cameras and Tasers, three additional firefighters as part of a multiyear plan to ease staffing pressures and reduce overtime costs, and the development of a new response model for nonurgent calls for emergency medical services;
- An expansion of GRTC Transit System service by extending hours for the 7 Seven Pines, 91 Laburnum Connector and 19 Pemberton routes and by extending the 19 Pemberton route to West Broad Marketplace in Short Pump. The changes represent an additional investment of $1.2 million, the largest locally-funded expansion of transit service in Henrico in the past 25 years;
- Increasing the exemption from BPOL (Business, Professional and Occupational License) taxes to $300,000 in gross receipts. Currently, businesses do not pay BPOL taxes on the first $100,000 in gross receipts. With a $300,000 exemption, more than 13,000 businesses would not pay BPOL taxes;
- An expansion of eligibility for the Real Estate Tax Advantage Program (REAP), which provides tax relief to residents who are at least 65 years old or totally and permanently disabled. To qualify, residents would be able to have a maximum income of $75,000, an increase from $67,000; and a maximum net worth of $400,000, an increase from $350,000;
- A merit-based raise of 2.4 percent for all employees of Henrico general government and Henrico County Public Schools. Employees with at least six years of tenure would receive an additional 0.6 percent, or 3 percent overall;
- Creation of a community revitalization fund to assist in the redevelopment of older neighborhoods;
- Continued support for Henrico’s sports tourism initiative, with funding for operations at the new Greenwood Park and $9.3 million toward synthetic turf fields at all county high schools;
- $53 million for projects promised with the 2016 bond referendum, specifically renovations at Tucker High School, work toward a new Brookland area elementary school, a new Fairfield Area Library; Greenwood Park’s second phase of development; a Staples Mill area fire station; and improvements at Dorey Park;
- A capital budget that sets aside $4.9 million for an extension of Woodman Road from Greenwood Road to Brook Road, $2.5 million for sidewalk improvements and $2.3 million for stormwater pollution reduction; and
- An average increase in water and sewer rates totaling $6.91 every two months for residential customers to continue to meet service demands.
The Board of Supervisors will begin its review of the proposed budget during legislative work sessions scheduled March 19-22. All meetings will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. except for the session Tuesday, March 20, which will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. The sessions will be in the County Manager’s Conference Room on the second floor of the Administration Building at the Henrico County Government Center, 4301 E. Parham Road.
The board will hold a public hearing on the budget at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 10 in the Board Room at the Henrico Government Center. A vote to adopt the budget is scheduled for Tuesday, April 24. Once approved, the budget will guide operating and capital spending for the year beginning July 1.
Copies of the proposed budget are available at Henrico libraries, the Office of Management and Budget in the Henrico Government Center and at henrico.us. Information also is available on the Henrico County Government channel on YouTube, at youtube.com/watch?v=iPFF90iYT9Y&t=1148s.