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Chesterfield County Rolls Out Revised Budget Due to COVID-19

Government Complex Sign
Chesterfield County has cut nearly $50 million from its upcoming budget due to the effects the coronavirus pandemic is having on revenue streams. (Photo: Ian Stewart/VPM News)

Trying to lessen the blow felt from the projected losses of sales and real estate taxes due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Chesterfield County Administrator Joe Casey sent the Board of Supervisors a revised budget for the upcoming fiscal year. 

“Needless to say, I think it was only about a month or so ago that we were all together, focused on our proposed budget, with assumptions that were very tangible, very real at the time as far as what we could do, and how to deploy such funds that we were blessed with,” Casey said.

Casey said the whole budget process is a very fluid situation. 

“And now, we are actually no longer projecting those such funds. In fact, we’re projecting less funds than we actually have today,” Casey said.

In his transmittal letter to the board, which introduces the revised budget, Casey said that the adjusted revenue projections drop by nearly $50 million as compared to the original proposed fiscal year 2021 budget. He adds also that the new plan is $10 million below the 2020 adopted budget.

Overall the projected revenue drops from $773,256,200 to $723,676,500, with real estate taxes taking an almost 53% hit, followed by other property taxes (such as cars, boats and other personal property) seeing an almost 14% drop. Taxes collected from sales and lodging dips to almost 15%. 

Ways the counting is trying to save money include implementing a hiring freeze and eliminating the two-percent merit based pay increase for Chesterfield County staff. 

Funding for schools was trimmed down by almost $3 million compared to the original proposal. However, it’s still more than what’s in this year’s budget. To break it down, the current adopted budget saw $302,028,900 transferred to schools. In the proposed (and now defunct) 2021 fiscal year budget, the school was set to see $314,650,500. The revised figures are $311,704,300, which is still more than the current budget. 

In Casey’s letter, he writes “protecting education is a top County priority, and this budget proves such by implementing requisite reductions in all other areas of County operations to hold schools as harmless as possible. “

Several key items are being put on hold, including the November bond referendum as well as studies on teacher and public safety pay. Also major capital projects, including a new Midlothian library, a replacement fire station in the Matoaca district and new land acquisitions are frozen.

However, some current projects are still proceeding on schedule, including a new fire station in the increasingly developed Midlothian district and a new elementary school in the Magnolia Green area in the western part of the county. Also, all leftover 2013 bond money for school projects, such as for Crestwood Elementary school, are still moving forward. 

Not affected by budget changes are all full time, sworn ranks in police, fire and EMS departments. They will see no impact to their budgets. The same holds true for the county’s registrar’s office, as it continues to gear up for the 2020 November Presidential election. 

If the economic forecast sees an upswing when the pandemic subsides, revisions to the budget could be made, said Casey. Those would be in bringing back the almost 500 furloughed employees. Also he says dollar amounts could change as soon as the state finalizes its budget. 

The Board of Supervisor has rescheduled their vote to adopt the budget to April 22. However, the board is still voting tonight (April 8) to adopt proposed tax and utility rates. And they are holding community budget meetings via live stream, starting with one Thursday, April 9 and another on April 13.

Read and comment on the budget at Blueprint.Chesterfield.gov

 

Ian M. Stewart previously was the transportation reporter and fill-in anchor for VPM News.
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