Budget will propose meals tax, service cuts

UPDATED: 11:12 P.M. – Henrico County Manager John Vithoulkas will propose a two-year budget plan to the county's Board of Supervisors Tuesday that calls for a 4 percent meals tax and includes some service cuts.

Speaking Monday night at Varina District Supervisor Tyrone Nelson's community meeting at John Rolfe Middle School, Vithoulkas said that the meals tax proposal was necessary in order to close an $18.5-million budget shortfall in the coming fiscal year.

"We are going to have to diversify our revenue streams," Vithoulkas said. The meals tax, estimated to generate about $18 million annually, is "not a sexy conversation, but what it is is the truth," he said.

Despite the economic downturn in recent years, Henrico has avoided raising taxes, laying off any employees or reducing services. But, Vithoulkas said, "the budget I present. . . will not abide by all three of those premises. We are looking at a number of service level reductions."

Vithoulkas, who replaced the retiring Virgil Hazelett less than two months ago as county manager, did not elaborate Monday about what cuts he was proposing.

Should the board decide to proceed with a meals tax, it would need to schedule a public referendum on the issue and win a simple majority of votes in order to enact the tax. The county's first attempt at a meals tax failed by 153 votes in 2005.

Henrico officials had hoped that the General Assembly this year would grant them permission to implement a meals tax without voter approval – a right enjoyed by cities and towns in Virginia – but a proposal that would have granted that right died during the session. In total, 203 localities in the state – including 45 of 95 counties – have a meals tax. The City of Richmond has a 6 percent meals tax but its restaurant sales still outpace those in Henrico, Vithoulkas said.

County officials believe that about 40 percent of the revenue raised by a meals tax would come from residents of other jurisdictions. They prefer that option to a 6-cent real estate tax increase – which, Vithoulkas said, would impact all Henrico residents.
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From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. that day at Red Robin, 11784 West Broad Street, members of the two agencies will be working for tips as a donation to the Special Olympics. > Read more.

Participants sought for ‘Walk to End Alzheimer’s’


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The event, one of three walks the association will hold in its service area this year (the Middle Peninsula-Northern Neck walk was held Oct. 7 and the Fredericksburg walk Oct. 14) raises money to help the association fight the disease, which affects more than 26,000 people in the metro Richmond region. > Read more.

Fairfield meeting Oct. 25 to focus on cybersecurity


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Thornton also has invited candidates who will be seeking election to local offices on Tuesday, Nov. 7 to introduce themselves. > Read more.

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Henrico County, in partnership with GRTC, is conducting a series of three Public Meetings to present recommended changes to transit service in Henrico County and to seek input from the public. Portions of Henrico County’s GRTC service will need to be adjusted to better connect with the upcoming Pulse BRT service and planned changes in the City of Richmond’s transit network. Meetings will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the following locations: Oct. 5 – Libbie Mill Library; Oct. 16 – Eastern Henrico Recreation Center; and Nov. 2 – Tuckahoe Library. All three meetings will be identical in content. Prior to the meeting, you can view the Choices Report for more information about the content of the meetings. Full text

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