Highlights include personal property tax rate cut, funding for ’22 bond projects, incentives for hotel development, raises for county and HCPS employees
Update: The Board of Supervisors on April 25 voted unanimously to approve Henrico County’s proposed budget for fiscal 2023-24.
Henrico County is outlining more details of its proposed budget for fiscal 2023-24, two weeks after announcing plans to include its second real estate tax credit in two years to help homeowners manage the impacts of rising property values.
As shared today with several hundred employees at the Department of Public Utilities Operations Center, the proposed budget also will include more tax relief – a 10-cent cut to the personal property tax rate – as well as additional investments in education and public safety; funding for capital projects, including the first wave of projects promised with the 2022 bond referendum; and 8.2% merit-based pay raises for county and schools employees – Henrico’s largest across-the-board salary increase in 33 years.
Speaking to the gathering of employees, Deputy County Manager for Administration W. Brandon Hinton said Henrico’s continued investment in its employees is part of its strategy to provide the best services at the lowest cost to the community.
“Every year Henrico is able to make substantial investments in education and public safety, maintain and build new, necessary infrastructure and lead our peers year after year in pay increases – all while maintaining the lowest tax burden on our residents and businesses – because of the work you do,” he said. “We intentionally have the leanest workforce for the outstanding services Henrico County provides. We ask you to do more, to go above and beyond, and every single day you amaze. Furthermore, the investment we make in our employees is an investment in our residents, our community and the services they receive.”
The proposed 8.2% salary increase underscores Henrico’s commitment to being the region’s local government pay leader, and it is expected to strengthen recruitment and retention efforts. For example, starting salaries will increase to $54,602 for teachers and $57,646 for police officers and firefighters. In addition, the proposed budget would increase all general government and HCPS minimum salaries to $15 per hour.
Henrico’s personal property tax rate for qualifying vehicles would be reduced permanently to $3.40 per $100 of assessed value, down from the current $3.50. That would save 350,000 account holders a total of $3.6 million in the upcoming year. Officials said while vehicle values have fallen from last year’s peak, they remain higher than they were several years ago.
Overall, the proposed budget would provide $26.3 million in tax relief through the personal property tax rate cut, the real estate tax credit and an expansion of the Real Estate Advantage Program for residents who are at least age 65 or totally and permanently disabled. Tax relief in the current budget totaled $50 million.
“This budget continues to recognize economic pressures on our residents and businesses, particularly those coming about from increased real estate and personal property values, and, once again, provides substantial tax relief,” Hinton said. “Between the proposed budget and the current budget, we will be providing our taxpayers with more than $76 million in tax relief.”
The budget for fiscal 2023-24 proposes a general fund of $1.15 billion, an increase of $91.2 million, or 8.6%, over the current year. More than 78% of the spending would support education and public safety. Other highlights include:
- An unchanged real estate tax rate of 85 cents per $100 of assessed value, which was lowered from 87 cents last year and is the lowest of Virginia’s 10 largest localities.
- $316.8 million in capital spending, including $114.3 million to initiate the first group of projects from the 2022 bond referendum, which was approved by voters in November. The first phase of bond funding would cover replacement schools for Jackson Davis Elementary and Longan Elementary, construction of the new Environmental Living Center at Wilton Farm, planning for the replacement of Quioccasin Middle School, a new Firehouse 6, road improvements to support the development of Three Chopt Area Park and a first wave of projects to improve drainage and prevent flooding. Additional funding will promote environmental stewardship through land acquisition, stream rehabilitation and other drainage improvement projects.
- $30 million from the capital budget for road and pedestrian improvements, which are largely funded through the Central Virginia Transportation Authority. Also included are $15 million for the construction of a new Police South Station in Highland Springs and more than $100 million for water and sewer system improvements, including in the Westwood and Innsbrook areas.
- $1.3 million to build a Henrico visitor center at Four Mile Creek.
- $2 million to establish the Home Purchase Assistance Program, which will help qualifying county and HCPS employees buy their first home in Henrico. The program will provide forgivable loans of $10,000 to $20,000 based on income and other requirements.
- $817.8 million in education funding, including a $650.4 million general fund budget for HCPS. The general fund budget represents an increase of $47.7 million, or 7.9%, over the current budget, and it supports continued implementation of the career ladders program, expansion of the An Achievable Dream Certified Academy to the eighth grade and the equivalent of 50 additional full-time positions.
- Increased funding in public safety for 10 additional police officers, 11 additional positions in the Division of Fire for the opening of Nine Mile Road Firehouse 23, two new peer recovery specialists in the Sheriff’s Office and a new director of the Substance Use Division of Henrico Area Mental Health & Developmental Services.
- New initiatives to promote economic and community development, with $2 million for neighborhood revitalization projects, $750,000 for the Henrico Investment Program and a position to oversee operations of the Henrico Sports & Events Center, which is scheduled to open this fall.
- A utility connection fee “holiday” to promote the construction of hotels and the redevelopment of old hotel sites. County credits would offset the fees typically charged.
- $4.3 million to help provide 95-gallon recycling carts to the 90,000 Henrico homes enrolled in the curbside recycling program of the Central Virginia Waste Management Authority.
- An additional $500,000 in real estate tax relief through the Real Estate Advantage Program. The maximum amount of relief per household would increase to $3,200, up from $3,000. The total amount of relief provided through the program would increase to $11.5 million.
County Manager John A. Vithoulkas is scheduled to formally present the proposed budget to the Board of Supervisors at its Tuesday, March 14 meeting. A public hearing will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 11 in the Board Room at the Henrico County Government Center, 4301 E. Parham Road. The budget is tentatively scheduled for adoption Tuesday, April 25 and would take effect for the year beginning July 1.