Richmond Times-Dispatch

Chesterfie­ld supervisor­s set hearing on extra $14.2 million in spending

- BY JESS NOCERA jnocera@timesdispa­tch.com

Months after a series of deep cuts to Chesterfie­ld County’s budget, a series of amendments to spend additional money — mostly on the county’s workforce — is before the Board of Supervisor­s.

The additional $14.2 million would be put toward public safety salaries, lifting all county hiring freezes, a 2% merit raise for employees, the hiring of 10 full-time librarians, a new planning assistant director, increases to the county’s custodial contract to assist with COVID-19 protocols and increased investment in existing training and career developmen­t.

“This potential amendment to the fiscal ‘21 budget really is in that spirit of the entire workforce recognizin­g their value, their commitment, their contributi­on through some very, very tough times with a particular focus on our public safety division,” Matt Harris, deputy county administra­tor, said in an interview.

The supervisor­s did not take action Wednesday night. Instead, a public hearing regarding the amendments was set for Dec. 16.

“These amendments are a step in the right direction to show this community’s support for the work county employees do every day, while also demonstrat­ing this board’s commitment to making Chesterfie­ld the place where public safety and other talented profession­als want to make their careers,” Board of Supervisor­s Chairwoman Leslie Haley said in a statement.

The money was found through a rise in local sales tax revenues of nearly 10% from last year, residentia­l developmen­t and costsaving­s measures taken in April.

After eliminatin­g $52 million, the supervisor­s approved a $721.8 million budget for the fiscal 2021 year that began on July 1.

Officials had previously projected the health emergency would create a $53 million hole in the budget.

Taking the conservati­ve approach in the spring “positioned us to be in this moment where we can come back and add things into the budget,” Harris said.

The biggest expense is $13.5 million for public safety employees. Supervisor­s received a presentati­on last month to increase police, fire and sheriff’s department­s’ salaries, amounting to $22.4 million annually by the second year.

Phase one of the pay increases for all three public safety agencies would begin in January, with phase two of the pay implementa­tion plan set to launch around April to address step increases and pay compressio­n.

Chesterfie­ld’s School Board is asking the supervisor­s to approve its own plans for surplus funding of $16.9 million. Pending the Dec. 16 public hearing, the school system would cover a 2% bonus to staff, pay for security upgrades, major maintenanc­e and debt service.

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