Sales Tax Revenues Up 5 Percent

Henrico County's sales tax revenue grew by 5.1 percent during the first quarter of its 2011 fiscal year, compared to the same quarter during the 2010 fiscal year – an encouraging sign for county officials.

During the same quarter, the sales tax revenue in Richmond fell by 23.7 percent, while Chesterfield witnessed a 0.6 percent decline and Hanover saw a 1.9 per increase.

Some of the increased revenue to Henrico likely is the result of the implementation of a "Henrico" mailing address in 2008, which continues to help the county capture revenue that was previously sent to Richmond in error, Henrico Finance Director John Vithoulkas said. Henrico's diverse retail base also factors into the rise in sales in the county, he said.

The figures were compiled from the Virginia Department of Taxation.

"I don't think there's any trend we can draw out of it," Vithoulkas said, "but it's a good result leading into the holiday retail season. I think the local resident is tired of hearing all of the negative economic mumbo-jumbo on the nightly news and they're getting back to living the rest of their lives."

Henrico received $13.86 million in sales tax revenue between July 1 and Sept. 30 of this year, compared with $13.19 million during the same time period in 2009. During the same quarter, Richmond's revenue dropped from $8.31 million last year to $6.34 million this year, while Chesterfield's fell from $9.4 million last year to $9.35 million this year.

Hanover County also experienced slight growth, from $4 million during the same time period last year to $4.08 million this year.

The figures reflect sales in June, July and August, which were paid in July, August and September and distributed to jurisdictions in August, September and October.

The most significant jump in sales came in June, when Henrico's sales were up by 7.3 percent over the same month in 2009, while Richmond's receipts fell 42 percent from last June. (Richmond's steep decline was due in part to an adjustment of funds that it shouldn't have received initially.)

Several Henrico business owners who spoke with the Citizen last week painted pictures that reflected the upward trend, while others said they've experienced ups and downs.

One – Neil Chiappa, owner of N&W Salvage in Sandston – said that his business has been steady through the summer and fall, with a small spike upward at times as shoppers look to save money. His store offers a variety of discounted goods and food items that become more attractive in a down economy, he said.

“We saw a customer increase when the economy got worse, and saw people we hadn’t seen before," Chiappa said. The company does little advertising and primarily benefits from word-of-mouth promotion.

Other Henrico businesses rely in part on the goodwill they've built through their involvement in the community. Saxon Shoes President Gary Weiner noted that his company helps between 300 and 500 children each years with its "Shoes for the Needy" project and routinely works with Bright Beginnings and United Way to give away 450 new pairs of shoes to underprivileged children.

“We try and do as much as we can, as often as we can, with the resources that we have,” Weiner said. “If everybody gave a little, nobody would have to give a lot.”

Saxon's strong reputation in the region helps too, and Weiner said that business is up from the same time last year at the Short Pump Town Center location. Now isn't the time for businesses that are succeeding to become complacent, Weiner insinuated.

"People are particular about how and where they spend their money,” he said.

Midas of Richmond's four area locations (including two in Henrico) saw a 7.5 percent increase in revenue during the summer months and an 11 percent increase from last year, according to owner Mark Smith.

“We’ve seen a significant increase in traffic," he said, attributing his success to steady advertising plans and charitable efforts for Virginia Blood Services, Meals on Wheels and the Central Virginia Foodbank, which Smith is often heard promoting in his advertisements.

“What we’re doing seems to be working," he said, "so we just try and stick with what works."

At the eight local Mexico Restaurant locations (including three in Henrico), sales were slower in recent months, according to co-owner Maria Garcia, but the restaurant has tried different strategies to boost business.

“We’re trying to get more customers in to have a good business," Garcia said. "Profits aren’t the same as they used to be a few years ago, but we’re doing all we can and hopefully customers come back after they see the things that we have to offer.”

"Overall we’re hanging in there."

– Amy David contributed to this article.
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HCPS wins national honor for overhaul of Code of Student Conduct, supports


Henrico County Public Schools recently was recognized by the National School Boards Association for a sweeping overhaul of the school division’s approach to student supports. HCPS was one of five large U.S. school systems recognized with a first-place honor in the 2017 Magna Awards, presented Saturday in Denver at the organization’s annual conference. The awards recognize school divisions and leaders “for taking bold and innovative steps to improve the lives of students and their communities,” according to the group.

The award recognizes Henrico Schools’ efforts of the past several years, from re-examining its policies to implementing more support systems. After a two-year conversation with the community through public hearings and other feedback, HCPS adopted a revised Code of Student Conduct for the 2015-16 school year. > Read more.

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.
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


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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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Henrico-based Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care will host a lecture by Marjorie Thompson at 5:30 p.m. at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 6000 Grove Ave. Noted author of “Soul Feast,” Thompson will speak on “Grounded in Compassion: Fostering Spiritual Practice in an Age of Terror and Twitter.” A Q&A with Thompson and a reception will follow. This 50th Anniversary event is free and open to the public. For details, call 282-8332 or visit http://www.vipcare.org or Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care on Facebook. Full text

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