Budget proposes pay raise for county employees

Eligible Henrico County employees would receive their first raise in three years as part of Henrico County Manager Virgil Hazelett's proposed 2011-12 budget, presented earlier this month to the Board of Supervisors.

The proposed $1.04 million overall budget (including a $743.6-million general fund) would represent a 2 percent increase from the current budget, with most of that increase coming from fixed cost increases and new grants.

The proposed salary raise of 2.372 percent would be the first bump since FY 2008-09, and Hazelett said it is be possible thanks to a slightly improving economy and continued reductions to various county expenditures.

The budget also calls for a 5 percent increase in water and sewer rates and in water and sewer connection fees but no increase in the county's real estate tax rate of 87 cents per $100 of assessed value.

The water and sewer increases would be used to help fund the construction of the Cobbs Creek Regional Water Supply Reservoir, which will be built in Cumberland County.

Among the proposed cuts: the elimination of 42 vacant positions within general government and 27.5 positions within Henrico County Public Schools' Central Office, and across-the-board operating and capital outlay reductions of 2.5 percent in all areas of general government.

Henrico's general fund revenues have dropped $91.5 million from FY08-09 to FY10-11, but Hazelett said the county's conservative approach to spending has helped prevent officials from having to lay off or furlough any employees during that time.

The anticipated general fund revenues in FY11-12 ($743.6 million) represent a 0.4 percent increase from the expected revenues in FY10-11. County officials anticipate about $273.2 million in property tax revenues during the coming fiscal year – a dip of nearly $3 million from the current budget year – but a slight 1.2 percent increase ($1.2 million) in personal property tax revenues.

Though state funding for education is projected to increase 2.8 percent to $204.7 million, that amount is still less than the county received five years ago. During that time, Hazelett noted, the school system has added nearly 1,000 students and opened five new schools.

Other highlights of the proposed budget include:

• nearly $800,000 in operating costs associated with the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center, which will open on Laburnum Avenue;

• $541,000 for operating costs related to the renovation of the Gayton Branch Library;

• a 10 percent reduction in funding to nonprofit to organizations that request county aid.

Among other items, the proposed Capital Improvement Program budget of $141.4 million would pay for:

• about $100 million in water and sewer projects;

• the renovation and expansion of Fire Station No. 13;

• land and planning costs associated with the replacement of Dumbarton Library;

• the renovation of Pinchbeck Elementary School.

The Board of Supervisors is conducting its annual departmental budget review this week and will hold a public hearing April 12 to solicit public comment on the budget.
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Environmentalists say budget hurts efforts to protect bay

Environmental groups are outraged at the Trump administration’s proposed funding cuts for Chesapeake Bay cleanup programs.

President Donald Trump’s budget plan, released last week, reduces the budget for the federal Environmental Protection Agency by 31 percent. That includes a $427 million in funding to address regional pollution, such as the Chesapeake Bay protection efforts. The proposed budget would eliminate funding for the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program, which received $73 million from the federal government in 2016. > Read more.

Glen Allen ES principal receives REB Award


Melissa Halquist-Pruden, principal of Henrico County’s Glen Allen Elementary School, earned the 2016-17 REB Award for Distinguished Educational Leadership. The Community Foundation presents the award to four principals annually – one each from the school systems of Henrico, Chesterfield and Hanover counties and one from the city of Richmond schools.

The award recognizes principals who go beyond the day-to-day demands of their jobs to create an exceptional educational environment. The award stresses management and communication skills, and the ability to inspire, encourage and advocate for the school. > Read more.

Grant to help Hermitage H.S. upgrade CTE program equipment


Governor Terry McAuliffe announced recently that Henrico County’s Hermitage H.S. will be among 16 high schools and technical centers statewide to receive a grant to upgrade equipment for career and technical education (CTE) programs.

The program gives priority to challenged schools, Governor's STEM Academies and Governor's Health Science Academies. Each school or center will receive $37,500 to purchase new equipment and make other necessary improvements. At Hermitage, the funds will be used for precision machining equipment. > Read more.

Virginia raises a toast to George Washington’s whiskey


George Washington is recognized as the father of our country, but with a bill signed into law by Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Washington also will be recognized under another title – distiller of Virginia’s official liquor.

SB 1261, sponsored by Sen. Adam Ebbin of Alexandria, adds a “state spirit” to the list of the commonwealth’s official emblems and designations and crowns George Washington’s rye whiskey with the title.

The bill, which McAuliffe signed last week, highlights George Washington’s contributions to the culture of Virginia as “a native son of Virginia born on February 22, 1732, in Pope’s Creek”; “the first American president, commander of the Continental Army, and president of the Constitutional Convention”; and “a model statesman ... universally acknowledged as the father of our nation.” > Read more.

McAuliffe vetoes 6 more bills; GOP calls him ‘disengaged’


Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Monday vetoed six bills, including three Republicans said would help prevent voter fraud but the Democratic governor said would create barriers to voting.

McAuliffe has now vetoed 37 bills from the General Assembly’s 2017 session – and 108 during his four-year term as governor, surpassing any of his predecessors.

Republican legislative leaders say McAuliffe has broken his promise to be bipartisan, calling his office “the most disengaged administration we have ever worked with.” > Read more.
Community

Villa’s Flagler Housing wins national NAEH award


St. Joseph's Villa’s Flagler Housing & Homeless Services was one of three entities to earn the National Alliance to End Homelessness' Champion of Change Award. The awards were presented Nov. 17 during a ceremony at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

NAEH annually recognizes proven programs and significant achievements in ending child and family homelessness.

Flagler completed its transition from an on-campus shelter to the community-based model of rapid rehousing in 2013, and it was one of the nation's first rapid re-housing service providers to be certified by NAEH. > Read more.

RIR’s Christmas tree lighting rescheduled for Dec. 12


Richmond International Raceway's 13th annual Community Christmas tree lighting has been rescheduled from Dec. 6 to Monday, Dec. 12, at 6:30 p.m., due to inclement weather expected on the original date.

Entertainment Dec. 12 will be provided by the Laburnum Elementary School choir and the Henrico High School Mighty Marching Warriors band. Tree decorations crafted by students from Laburnum Elementary School and L. Douglas Wilder Middle School will be on display. Hot chocolate and cookies will be supplied by the Henrico High School football boosters. > Read more.
Entertainment

Metro Diner to open second Henrico location


Metro Diner, a comfort food concept, will open its second Henrico location next month. The company is accepting job applications for its Libbie Place location at 5626 West Broad Street. The diner concept, known for its fried chicken and waffles, meatloaf, and shrimp and grits, will bring 100 new jobs to the region as it plans to open its doors in April.

The 3,500-square-foot diner located in the Libbie Place Shopping Center will seat more than 100 and serve classic comfort food staples with a twist, such as fried chicken and waffles topped with strawberry butter and a stuffed challah bread French toast with strawberry and blueberry compote. > Read more.

 

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The READ Center will hold new tutor training to become an Adult Literacy Tutor from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. April 18-19 at Partnership for Families, 800 W. Graham Rd. If you can read this, you can help someone who can’t. More than 65,000 adults in the Richmond metro area cannot read well enough to function in today’s society. The READ Center helps adults with low literacy skills (in Richmond, Henrico and Chesterfield) develop reading and communication skills through classroom and one-to-one tutoring. You must attend both sessions. For details, visit http://www.readcenter.org or email Dawniece Trumbo at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Full text

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