Chesterfield County Begins Talks Toward New Bond Referendum
A joint meeting last week between Chesterfield’s school board and county supervisors dove into how to create a new bond referendum that could reach voters this November. It's the start of a long conversation about how to fund major projects for the county.
Bond referendums ask citizens to help fund major projects that county budgets cannot generally cover. Chesterfield’s school board and county supervisors are considering new fire and police stations, as well as many projects for schools.
However, Supervisor Chairwoman Leslie Haley said nothing can be decided until she sees what the General Assembly approves regarding possible state-wide tax increases for transportation needs.
“There’s going to be additional burdens put on our citizens, frankly, by the current leadership. That’s going to weigh what our citizens tolerance is for looking at other burdens.”
Haley says that there won’t be a tax rate increase for residents but a possible meals tax could be on the horizon in order to help underwrite a bond.
According to Deputy County Administrator for Finance Matt Harris, the county has the capacity to seek a $600 million bond. However, he says that figure will most likely come in $200 million below that because the county likes to be conservative. Items under consideration include a long list of 25 priorities for schools that could take up most of the bond that could reach $400 million dollars.
School Chairwoman Debbie Bailey says she knows that list will shrink.
“I think we’d have to in order to get into the $400 million range.”
The last bond referendum was in 2013. On that, new school construction captured the bulk of funds from the referendum. Bailey says last week’s meeting was just the start of a long conversation about how to fund major projects.