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.
The Richmond West Breakfast Lions Club (based in western Henrico) recently donated 59 backpacks to the Westover Hills Elementary School on Jahnke Road.
Above, club members display some of the backpacks prior to their distribution. > Read more.
Thanks to a first-place win in The American Protege International Vocal Competition 2014, Glen Allen High School student Matija Tomas will travel to New York City to perform at Carnegie Hall in December.
At the first-place winners recital in Weill Hall, Matija will perform Giacomo Puccini’s opera aria, “Chi il bel sogna di doretta.” She will perform with other vocalists from around the world and have the opportunity to win other awards and scholarships.
Locally, Thomas has performed with Richmond’s renowned Glorious Christmas Nights, Christian Youth Theatre, and WEAG’s Urban Gospel Youth Choir. > Read more.
The John Rolfe YMCA and Gayton Baptist Church have partnered in an effort to bring greater health and wellness opportunities to the community.
Through this partnership, the John Rolfe Y will run Youth Winter Sports programs, including basketball and indoor soccer, in Gayton’s newly renovated $5.5 million outreach center that features a new gymnasium, youth and teen space, social space with café, meeting space and full service commercial kitchen. > Read more.
The Community College Workforce Alliance (CCWA), in partnership with the Virginia Film Office, will offer "Get Your Start in the Film Industry," a two-day seminar designed to prepare workers for film, television and commercial projects in Virginia. The course will be held Oct. 4-5 at the Workforce Development and Conference Center, 1651 Parham Road in Henrico, on the campus of J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College.
The training will be taught by Gary Romolo Fiorelli, an accomplished assistant director for film and television projects, which include the television series Sons of Anarchy and ABC’s current drama Mistresses. > Read more.
The Boathouse restaurant will open at Short Pump Town Center in the spring, its third location in the region.
“People have asked us to come to the West End for years,” said owner Kevin Healy. “When the opportunity arose, we knew had to jump on it.”
The new restaurant will be located in a 5,800-square-foot space under the Hyatt House Hotel at the town center and will include a large outdoor patio. > Read more.
Boka Kantina exceeds its strong food truck reputation
Already a fan of Boka fare from outdoor events with the Tako Truck, I was delighted to learn of the new restaurant, and eager to see if its reputation held up after putting down brick-and-mortar roots.
Would the food lose its zest if I wasn’t enjoying it in the great outdoors? Would it seem pedestrian served from an ordinary kitchen instead of a truck?
Would the tacos be less satisfying as an antidote to normal lunch hunger – instead of being ingested to stave off desperate hunger after a long afternoon of crowds, sun, and tedious lines? > Read more.
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