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Chesterfield Supervisors Adopt Amended Budget & Pass New Ordinances

Chesterfield Police
Chesterfield police officers, as well as other public safety employees such as firefighters, will be getting a two-percent pay raise thanks to a newly passed amended budget. (Photo: Ian Stewart/VPM News)

The Chesterfield Board of Supervisors approved adding $75 million to the current budget at a meeting Wednesday.

The additional funds are coming from a surplus from last year’s budget and from revenues projected for this year.

That surplus is $54 million. In a phone call Wednesday morning, acting Budget Director Gerard Durkin said much of the surplus was from a big jump in sales tax collection--from local businesses and online sales. Also the local housing market is still strong.* The county is forecasting stronger real estate revenue in 2021, which is higher than earlier predictions. Both areas saw an increase from people staying in the county and not buying products and services from neighboring locales, such as Henrico or Richmond.

During the evening supervisor’s meeting, Vice Chair Kevin Carroll, who’s a former police officer, highlighted that part of the  $75 million will go to raises for firefighters, police officers and other public safety staff.

“I think it’s an important investment for our future. I think this will be a plan that will help us to retain our intellectual property that we have and attract additional people to come work for us that may not have thought about Chesterfield,” Carroll said.

Teachers will also receive a one-time, two-percent bonus. But that decision came with  much discussion among board members.

“I think it’s the will of this board to amend the school portion of the plan that allows bonus monies to be transferred now,” said board Chair Leslie Haley. 

The school district, which gets its funding from the county, returned to the county $16.9 million.* The surplus came from the suspension of contracts and fuel and utility savings, according to county officials.

Haley said she wanted the bonuses--totaling $8.2 million overall--to be distributed immediately “in recognition of all of our hard working teachers.”

“But to hold the balance of the fiscal [2020] monies on the county side, given the considerable amount of uncertainty around the school’s broader financial status in both fiscal year 21 and 22,” Haley said.

She encouraged her board members to weigh in on her proposal--which they did.

Supervisor Jim Ingle wasn’t on board with Haley’s suggestion. He cited the recently released teacher pay study, which--similar to the one done for public safety employees--suggested ways the county could raise teacher salaries to match national and regional averages.

“In principle, I’m not against the bonuses for school employees. But I also must consider the tremendous uncertainty facing the school budget in a teacher pay study,” Ingle, who’s still in his first year on the board, said. “With such uncertainty in mind, I would be more comfortable to not release any of last year’s surplus at this time. Instead to continue to hold these monies until we are able to solve the challenges related to school budgets. And show a commitment to funding the teacher pay study, which would solve a problem that’s been festering for far too long.”

In the end, the board voted to fund just the one-time teacher bonuses.

Part of the funds--$24 million--are slated to go to the county’s Economic Development Authority to attract new businesses. 

A few ordinances were updated and passed on Wednesday as well.

One requires residents who choose to shoot guns on their property to create a berm or use a natural berm behind whatever targets they’re aiming at as a way to not have stray bullets fly into neighboring yards. According to the agenda report, “If compliance cannot be achieved, the ordinance provides for a maximum fine of $1,000.00.”

Another ordinance revolved around updating the noise ordinance--last updated back in 2009. The update, written by Chief of Police Jeffrey Katz, calls for two changes: making the overnight time start at 11pm instead of midnite. 

The other update calls for restricting playing music during morning hours. The ordinance reads in part: 

“Specifically, it would prohibit between the hours of 7:01 a.m. and 11:00 p.m. music and other amplified sound that is plainly audible (i) inside another person’s home when the doors and windows of that person’s home are closed or (ii) off the property on which the noise is generated and at least 300 feet from the source of the noise. Under the current ordinance, the police department can do nothing to address complaints of loud music or similar noise when they occur during the daytime and early evening.”

Board member Jim Holland--the lone Democratic on the board--applauded the ordinance, saying he’s gotten a lot of complaints from his constituents. 

Chairwoman Haley said this is the type of ordinance that needs to be updated from time to time. 

“It’s one of the nice things that I think this board has been intuitively listening to people and as our constituents bring issues to us, we can come to you and ask if there’s ways we can amend ordinances to address those,” she said.

*CORRECTION: This web article has been updated to reflect an incorrect explanation of budget numbers.

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