CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WWBT) — Tax relief and workforce retention and recruitment are the two goals of Chesterfield’s $905 million general budget for fiscal year 2023.
On Wednesday evening, the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors approved the budget, which includes reducing the property tax rate from three cents to 92 cents per $100 of assessed value.
“There’s over $50 million in tax relief,” said Matt Harris, assistant administrator of finance and administration for Chesterfield County.
The tax relief package also includes reducing vehicle registration fees from $40 to $20 and reducing the car tax bill.
“We’ve designed this so that there’s something for everyone in terms of tax relief,” Harris said. “The amount of savings will vary enormously. If you are a single family residence, with two or three cars, you could save between $300 and $400.
Utility rates are also rising slightly by 2.6%, which executives say will add about $1.50 more to your bill per month.
County leaders also said another investment in this budget is recruiting and retaining employees in their workforce.
As part of the plan, county leaders said $13 million would increase starting salaries for sworn personnel in the police, fire and sheriff departments.
Effective July 1, county officials said newly hired police and firefighters in Chesterfield will receive a starting salary of $51,006, while newly hired sheriff’s deputies will start at $48,118. Once they complete the graduation requirements, the annual salary will increase to $53,214 for police and firefighters and $51,006 for sheriff’s deputies.
“We put our money first, so when it comes to salary issues, that’s how we invest,” Harris said.
As part of the budget decision, county leaders also plan to use $36 million to raise teachers’ starting salaries from $46,000 to $49,481. This also includes salary scale adjustments for approximately 6,500 school-based employees.
It comes as Chesterfield County Public Schools continues its search to fill 200 teaching vacancies for the upcoming school year. However, a spokesperson for the school division said that number is likely to increase.
“We are pleased to see the increase, this slight increase in teachers’ starting salaries,” said Ben Pearson-Nelson, chairman of the Chesterfield County Council of the PTAs.
However, Pearson-Nelson also has questions about the magnitude of the impact and whether it will make a difference to keeping the workforce in the school division.
“The concerns I hear from teachers and parents are that we are not doing enough to make sure we retain our seasoned teachers and that we are attracting the new teachers we need,” said he declared.
After weeks of advocating for more funding to the school division through the budget, Pearson-Nelson believes more investments need to be made in their classrooms.
“The phrase I heard recently was, ‘We’re putting bandages on a patient in intensive care,'” Pearson-Nelson said. that is, we have been underfunding schools for years.”
Harris also said that depending on the final vote for the state budget, there may be additional funding for the school division.
The Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors also approved a $540 million bond referendum for school and county capital projects, which county residents will vote on. The article will be sent to a judge to be added to the ballot in November.
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