Henrico County VA
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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.


Community

Garden tails

The threat of bad weather didn’t keep visitors away from Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden July 10 for the facility’s weekly Flowers After 5 event (which pairs music and food with a chance to stroll the garden) and its monthly Fidos After 5 (which allows dog owners to bring their pets with them to enjoy the evening). > Read more.

Western Henrico Rotary helps fund Midwives For Haiti Jeep


Thanks in part to a $10,000 gift from the Western Henrico Rotary Club, another bright pink Jeep modified to travel extremely rough terrain has been delivered to Midwives For Haiti so that more pregnant women in the quake-ravaged country will have access to prenatal care and a greater chance of surviving childbirth.

The funds were raised at the annual casino night held in February, club president Adam Cherry said. The Rotary Club also helped purchase the Virginia-based charity’s first pink jeep three years ago. > Read more.

Agencies combine on new entry point to Chickahominy


Canoeing and kayaking enthusiasts soon will have a new access point to the Chickahominy River. VDOT, the James River Association and Henrico County Parks and Recreation are teaming up to establish a new site in Eastern Henrico.

The James River Association negotiated the deal with VDOT to procure official access to the area located just east of I-295 on North Airport Road in Sandston. The site includes a park-and-ride commuter lot bordering the Chickahominy River and has been an unofficial launch site used by paddlers for years. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


Take in a show at several locations this weekend! West End Comedy will provide laughs at HATTheatre; the production of “Pump Boys and Dinettes” will close Sunday; and the youth theatre company CharacterWorks will present “Footloose” at The Steward School. Another show perfect for the kids – “Despicable Me 2” is playing at the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center tonight. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

Is there an Echo in here?

‘Earth to Echo’ aims to become this generation’s ‘ET’
It’s no secret that all found-footage genre movies are the same. Grab a couple of characters, give one of them a camera, and expose them to something supernatural that’s content to lurk just off-screen until the last five minutes. Everything else will just fall into place.

But that formula isn’t particularly family friendly, if only because that thing waiting a few feet to the left of the cast is usually plotting their violent doom.

That’s what sets Earth to Echo apart from the pack. It, too, follows a group of characters armed with a camera and a tendency to encounter unknown life forms. But all those familiar parts have been rearranged just enough to make it suitable for a much younger audience. > Read more.

Weekend Top 10


An eclectic array of events are taking place this weekend throughout the county. In the West End, we have the Richmond Wedding Expo, the Under the Stars Family Film Series and Henrico Theatre Company’s production of “Pump Boys and Dinettes.” In the eastern part of the county, we have a blood drive at the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center, Gallmeyer Farm’s annual Sweet Corn Festival and an origami workshop at Fairfield Library. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

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