Understanding why the bond referendum and meals tax are on the ballot
Meetings scheduled throughout October
As Election Day nears, Chesterfield County is encouraging residents to learn as much as possible about the bond referendum and meals tax issues that voters will decide on Nov. 5. In addition to a special website devoted to the information at www.yourvoicefirstchoice.com, the county has scheduled community meetings this month for residents to attend and have their questions answered. Community meetings will be held throughout the county and are all open to the public:
- Wednesday, Oct. 16, 1:30 p.m. – Chester Library, 11800 Centre St.
- Monday, Oct. 21, 7 p.m. – Cosby High School, 14300 Fox Club Parkway
- Tuesday, Oct. 22, 10:30 a.m. – River’s Bend Fire Station, 901 West Hundred Road
- Tuesday, Oct. 22, 6:30 p.m. – Crestwood Elementary School, 7600 Whittington Drive
- Thursday, Oct. 24, 7 p.m. – Meadowbrook High School, 4901 Cogbill Road
- Monday, Oct. 28, 7 p.m. – Ettrick Elementary School, 20910 Chesterfield Ave.
- Monday, Oct. 28, 7 p.m. – Monacan High School, 11501 Smoketree Drive
- Tuesday, Oct. 29, 1 p.m. – Swift Creek Baptist Church, 7511 North Spring Run Road
- Wednesday, Oct. 30, 7 p.m. – Thomas Dale High School, 3626 West Hundred Road
For more about the upcoming community meetings, visit www.yourvoicefirstchoice.com/calendar/
Another way to learn about the bond referendum and meals tax questions is to watch NBC 12 on Wednesday, Oct. 16. A Call 12 segment will focus on the issues between 5-6:30 p.m. Residents can call 345-1212 to reach a knowledgeable individual who can answer their questions.
Chesterfield County voters are being asked to consider bonds to provide for the renovations or replacement of 10 of the county’s oldest schools, the addition of a new elementary school to ease overcrowded classrooms, and the replacement of the county’s nearly obsolete emergency communications system, which is used by police officers, fire and emergency medical services personnel, and sheriff’s deputies. By 2017, the manufacturer will no longer provide technical support or parts for the existing emergency communications system.
Chesterfield County is committed to maintaining a high quality of life for all residents and employers. Through the recent adoption of a new comprehensive plan, the Board of Supervisors made it a priority to revitalize the county’s older communities. Investments in public facilities, including schools and public safety, are integral to this revitalization.
In addition to the bond questions, voters also will consider whether the county should establish a meals tax that cannot be set higher than 2 percent and will be restricted to helping pay for a portion of the capital costs associated with the school and public safety bond projects.
The meals tax was selected as a revenue source to help finance these projects for several reasons:
- A meals tax would be partially paid for by nonresidents, including visitors or sports-tourism participants and spectators. It is estimated that 25 percent of a meals tax would be paid by nonresidents.
- The meals tax, limited to 2 percent, will provide the additional revenue needed to pay the debt service on school and public safety bonds.
- Every city in Virginia imposes a meals tax, as do 45 of the state’s 95 counties. The county's meals tax would be legally limited to 2 percent, the lowest rate in Virginia. Any changes to the meals tax in the future would require another referendum.
The county takes its mission of prudent financial management seriously. Since the recession in fiscal 2009, 618 full-time positions have been eliminated and expenses cut by more than $50 million. As a result, the county is positioned as the lowest cost, full-service locality in the state, and also the locality with the lowest local revenue burden (Virginia Auditor of Public Accounts). Currently, the county is operating at the same per capita cost that it had in fiscal 1993 (on an inflation-adjusted basis). Unlike the federal government, the county is required to pass a balanced budget every year. The county does not use debt to finance ongoing operational costs such as salaries and benefits.
The amount of debt that the county can issue is governed by its financial policies, which are tightly defined and strictly adhered to in order to maintain the county’s AAA bond rating. The county will remain well within its financial policy levels if voters approve the additional debt that is part of the 2013 referenda. Chesterfield County is one of only 34 counties — out of 3,143 in the country — to have obtained AAA bond ratings from all three national rating agencies. A county’s bond rating is comparable to an individual’s credit score, and this rating enables the county to obtain capital at the lowest rates possible.
- The next Board of Supervisors meetings will be held Oct. 23, Nov. 13, Nov. 20 and Dec. 11. Board meetings take place in the Public Meeting Room, 10001 Iron Bridge Road. Sessions typically begin at 3 p.m., break at 5 p.m., and resume at 6:30 p.m.
- The Asian American Society of Central Virginia, in partnership with the Chesterfield Health District, will sponsor the Central Virginia Community Health Fair, Saturday, Oct. 26, 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. at the Chesterfield County Fairgrounds, 10300 Courthouse Road Services offered include free flu vaccinations for adults and children aged three and older (limited quantities available); blood pressure screenings and dental and eye screenings. Experts will be available to offer advice and information on quitting smoking, prenatal health, arthritis, Medicaid, Women, Infants and Children program, injury prevention and more. Chesterfield County Police will be on hand from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. as part of the medication take-back program and will be collecting unused and expired medications for safe disposal. Please note the take-back program begins and ends earlier than the health fair. Additional partners for the health fair include Henrico County, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and the Bon Secours Health System.
- The Chesterfield County Police Department currently is hiring for its July 2014 police academy. The next police exams are scheduled for Oct. 25 and Dec. 6. The department also will have an information session on Wednesday, Oct. 30, at 7 p.m. at the Eanes-Pittman Public Safety Training Center, 6610 Public Safety Way, Chesterfield. The session will include information about the hiring and application processes and the academy, and provide opportunities to have questions answered. For more details about the exam dates or the information session, visit www.chesterfieldpd.com.
- The Chesterfield County Sustain Our Communities Committee, SOCC, recognizes the accomplishments of outstanding organizations and individuals from across the county who work to enhance the quality of life in their communities. Each year, SOCC seeks nominations of individuals and organizations that help to make a difference. Entries are in two categories, Volunteer of the Year and Organization of the Year. All entries must be received by Dec. 31, and must include a narrative that demonstrates how the nominee’s efforts meet the award’s criteria. Supporting documentation such as news articles, commendations or other materials may be included. For more information or an entry form, visit www.chesterfieldcommunities.com.
- With school back in session and the holidays fast approaching, it is easy to get sick this time of year. Follow these simple steps to stay healthy: (1) Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water for 15 to 20 seconds. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers when hand washing is not available. (2) Cover your mouth with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough or sneeze to prevent spreading germs through airborne droplets. (3) Avoid touching your mouth, eyes or nose since germs are often spread when you touch something contaminated and then touch your face. (4) Get a flu shot – most pharmacies and grocery stores offer them without an appointment, and doctors’ offices should have an ample supply of the vaccination. The flu shot is particularly recommended for children and the elderly, and anyone who is at risk for complications from influenza.
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County Programs and Services
- If you have questions about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or would like to apply for health care coverage, creating an online account is the quickest way to get information and apply for coverage. The Federal Health Insurance Marketplace provides information in English and Spanish at healthcare.gov and accepts applications. This federally-run site enables comparison shopping for private health insurance and helps determine eligibility for tax credits to help pay for coverage. Individual, family and small-business plans are available. Applications for Medicaid and Family Access to Medical Insurance Security, or FAMIS, are also accepted. If you do not have Internet access, call the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace Hotline at 1-800-318-2596.You may also apply for Medicaid or FAMIS at CommonHelp.Virginia.gov or CoverVa.org.
- Find out about resources that are available to help at the Domestic and Sexual Violence Resource Fair on Monday, Oct. 28, from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., in the Multipurpose Room at the Chesterfield-Colonial Heights Social Services Department, 9501 Lucy Corr Circle, Chesterfield. The greater Richmond community is invited to this event, which is sponsored by the Chesterfield County Domestic and Sexual Violence Resource Center and the Chesterfield Domestic Violence Task Force. For more information, call 804-318-8265.
- Glen Peterson, director of the Chesterfield-Colonial Heights Community Corrections and Pretrial Services agency, was named Member of the Year by the National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies at the 2013 NAPSA Conference in Orlando, Fla., for his dedication and significant contributions to the association.
- Seventeen Chesterfield County departments and two state agencies are now using the new Chesterfield Development Information System, or CDIS, which was developed by the county’s Community Development Division. This system, the only one of its kind in the region, has automated the zoning process so that customers can file zoning applications electronically, track the status of their cases online, and receive regular emails about their cases. CDIS also enables staff to view, review and track zoning cases through the public-hearing process. County planners began introducing customers to CDIS in May. CDIS also enables staff from multiple county departments and state agencies to access the case information in one place and perform all of these tasks online.
- Virginia Adopts is an initiative launched by Governor Bob McDonnell to match 1,000 children in foster care with 1,000 families. There currently are about 4,000 children in Virginia's foster-care system. In the Chesterfield-Colonial Heights Department of Social Services there are numerous children ready for adoption. For more information, call Lindsay Britt at 804-717-6391. For information about the adoption initiative, visit www.virginiaadopts.virginia.gov/ or call 800-Do-Adopt.
- Chesterfield County Mental Health Support Services, Richmond Behavioral Health Authority and the Health Corporation of America, HCA, recently received a $281,000 grant from the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health & Disability Services to establish a Crisis Triage Center at Chippenham Hospital. The center will provide significant benefits for those with mental health challenges, including access to immediate mental health crisis assessment, screening for hospitalization and medical screening in one integrated location. The proposed center is a component of the Crisis Intervention Training initiative in Richmond and Chesterfield County, which promotes close coordination between law enforcement, mental health professionals and the person in crisis. One of the goals is to improve services to individuals in crisis while efficiently utilizing law enforcement and mental health resources. The center operates from 2 p.m. to midnight.
- Each year since 1994, the Chesterfield Employee Association has produced a keepsake Christmas ornament portraying a historic site in the county. The 2013 ornament depicts Trinity Church. There also are limited supplies of other ornaments in the series. The cost of each ornament is $15. To order, visit Chesterfield.gov/CEA. Print and complete the order form and mail it, along with a check made payable to CEA, to Dianne Price, Human Resource Management Department, P.O. Box 40, Chesterfield, VA 23832. For more information, call 748-1551.
Things to do
- Chesterfield County’s newest Civil War park, Historic Point of Rocks, will host a Living History Day on Saturday, Nov. 2, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. This special event will focus on the Civil War’s medical stories, with reenactors portraying surgeons, soldiers and even Clara Barton, who served as superintendent of nursing at the Point of Rocks Hospital. Activities include: Clara Barton performances at noon and 2 p.m.; Artillery demonstrations at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.; Civil War medicine demonstrations all day in the Strachan House and tours throughout the day. The park is located at 1011 Point of Rocks Road, Chesterfield, VA. For more information and directions, go to VisitChesterfieldVA.com.
- The Chesterfield County office of Virginia Cooperative Extension will be offering free gardening seminars this fall, reservations are suggested. For more information, call 804-751-4401, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. On Tuesday, Nov. 5, 6 p.m., Timeless Design in a Sustainable World: Charles F. Gillette Symposium will be offered at Meadowdale Library. On Wednesday, Nov. 13, 6 p.m., the Make Your Own Holiday Arrangements program will be offered at Midlothian Library. Participants should bring small or medium containers, clippers, greens, berry branches and evergreen branches and learn how to make festive holiday arrangements. Space is limited to 15 participants.
- The Chesterfield County office of Cooperative Extension invites county residents with a green thumb to consider becoming master gardeners. Master gardeners are volunteers who work with the community to encourage and promote environmentally sound horticulture practices. They help the public learn about gardening in small spaces, proper plant selection, protecting pollinators and lawn care. They also teach seminars, assist in the Grass Roots program and share information at events. Applications are being accepted through Nov. 1, and the program will begin in 2014. For more information, call 751-4401 or visit offices.ext.vt.edu/chesterfield/getinvolved/index.html
- Mark your calendar for the 21st Annual James River Parade of Lights, which will cruise the river Saturday evening, Dec. 14. A hallmark event of the regional James River Advisory Council, the Parade of Lights has long been a holiday tradition that’s cherished by spectators who line the shorelines at designated viewing sites in Richmond and Chesterfield and Henrico counties to witness this festive spectacle of boats emblazoned with thousands of lights. For more details, including directions to each viewing site and instructions for boaters to register to participate, visit www.jrac-va.org/. See you on the riva!
- Chesterfield Historical Society of Virginia. Holiday Events (for reservations call 796-1479):
- Dec. 7, 1-4 p.m. – Christmas Open House (Magnolia Grange) Free
- Dec. 7, 8-10 p.m. – Spirited History Paranormal Tour (1917 Court House Green), $20
- Dec. 11, 1 p.m. – Christmas Tea (Magnolia Grange), $25
- Dec. 14, 7:30 p.m. – Christmas Homecoming Concert at Old Trinity Chapel by Trinity United Methodist Choir and Bell Choir, Free
- Dec. 18, 1 p.m. – Christmas Tea (Magnolia Grange), $25
- Henricus Historical Park Holiday Events:
- Dec 7– Christmas in the Colony Camp (ages 5-10) 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Registration required. Call 318-8797. $30/ $25 for patrons
- Dec 14 – Civil War Winter Camp (ages 8-12)10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Registration required. Call 804-318-8797. $30/$25 for patron
- Dec 14 – Henricus Colonial Christmas 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
- The Chesterfield County Department of Parks and Recreation is offering programs for seniors this fall at Bon Air Baptist Church, 2531 Buford Road. Classes including beginner, intermediate and advanced bridge, beginner and intermediate line dancing, and learning how to use Skype. Register at least one week in advance by calling 804-748-1623, or register online www.chesterfield.gov/parks. For more information about any of the programs, call Judy Jones, 804-751-4135.
- Parks and Recreation also is offering a trip on Wednesday, Dec. 4, to see the holiday classic “White Christmas” at the Riverside Dinner Theater near Fredericksburg. Enjoy lunch before the matinee show. The trip also includes a stop at the Russell Stover Candy Outlet. The trip is for seniors aged 50 and older. The $116 fee includes transportation, lunch, matinees, taxes and gratuities. Register by Nov. 1. For more information, call 804-751-4135. To register by phone, call 748-1623 and mention course 27378, or register online at www.chesterfield.gov/parks.