UPDATE: At its April 12 regular meeting, the Board of Supervisors voted to adopt the budget for fiscal year 2022-23. The spending plan will take effect July 1.
Highlights include 2-cent cut to real estate rate, more tax relief through REAP, 117 positions for public safety, education, $20 million to jumpstart bond projects
The Henrico County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday received a proposed budget for the next fiscal year that would reduce the real estate tax rate by 2 cents, expand tax relief for qualifying residents and kickstart projects identified for the Nov. 8 bond referendum.
Other highlights of County Manager John A. Vithoulkas’ $1.5 billion budget for fiscal 2022-23 include 117 new positions in public safety and education, a 5% merit-based salary increase for government and school employees plus the launch of a “career ladder” program for teachers and other eligible staff of Henrico County Public Schools (HCPS).
The proposed budget includes a $1.1 billion general fund to support most governmental operations. That represents a $79.6 million, or 8.1%, increase from the budget for fiscal 2021-22.
“Henrico – like communities everywhere – has faced significant challenges and uncertainties during the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Vithoulkas said. “Despite these issues, our financial standing is stronger than ever. Our proposed budget for fiscal year 2022-23 will allow us to continue our progress. We will invest in our residents and businesses by expanding tax relief, our employees with well-deserved, market-driven raises, and our schools, parks and other public facilities by ensuring they are staffed and equipped to meet our community’s needs today and tomorrow. Further, we will continue to aggressively attract jobs and economic development as we strengthen older commercial corridors, revitalize neighborhoods and protect the environment.”
Highlights of the plan include:
- 2-cent reduction to the real estate tax rate, from 87 cents to 85 cents per $100 of assessed value. It would deliver the final part of the 2+2 tax relief plan and represent the seventh time the rate has been cut – without any increases – in the past 44 years;
- An expansion of real estate tax relief for residents who are ages 65 and older or permanently and totally disabled. Specifically, the eligibility criteria of the Real Estate Advantage Program would allow a maximum net worth of $500,000, up from $400,000;
- A $602.7 million allocation from the general fund for HCPS, an increase of $41.7 million, or 7.4%, over the current year. In addition to its salary enhancements, the plan would implement recommendations to upgrade instructional assistants to full-time status and increase teaching specialists plus support the Achievable Dream Academy’s expansion to the seventh grade and fund new specialty centers at Hermitage High School and Varina High School;
- $178.3 million for capital projects, including $20 million to start the planning of projects that would be funded through the $511.4 million bond referendum that is scheduled for the Nov. 8 ballot. The planning funds would support replacements for Jackson Davis and Longan elementary schools, the Police Division’s South Station and the Eastover Gardens Firehouse 6 as well as the construction of an environmental education center at Wilton Farm. Overall, the bond referendum would provide $511.4 million to support projects to improve education, public safety, parks and drainage and flood mitigation;
- $27.5 million in funding from the Central Virginia Transportation Authority, which would provide $25 million for road projects and $2.5 million to enhance pedestrian and bicycling facilities. The budget also would set aside $2.5 million in local funds for sidewalks and bike paths;
- $560,000 to address youth crime and related issues by enhancing mobile mental-health crisis services, expanding anticrime programs and offering additional support to community agencies focused on youth services and advocacy;
- $750,000 for the new Henrico Investment Program, which was established to spur investment in older commercial corridors, and $2 million for neighborhood revitalization;
- A 74% reduction to the tax rate on equipment used by biotechnology companies. Specifically, the proposal would establish the lowest personal property tax rate of any Virginia locality – 90 cents per $100 in assessed value – for equipment used by biotechnology companies;
- $4.1 million for initiatives to continue to reduce stormwater pollution, rehabilitate streams, improve drainage and acquire properties in flood plains; and
- An average increase in water and sewer rates of $3.16 per month for residential customers to keep pace with service and maintenance needs.
The Board of Supervisors will begin its review of the proposed budget during legislative work sessions March 14-17. The meetings will be held in the County Manager’s Conference Room, on the third floor of the Administration Building at the Henrico County Government Center, 4301 E. Parham Road. The public will be able to watch the proceedings remotely via WebEx.
The Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on the budget at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 22 in the Board Room at the Henrico Government Center. A vote to adopt the budget is scheduled for Tuesday, April 12. 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.