Bond Referendums

What is a bond referendum?

A bond is a form of debt obligation that, when issued, provide a government with funds to finance large capital improvements. As a vital component of the local democratic process, citizens vote important community-based topics, focused primarily on major capital projects. A bond program includes both the authority to issue bonds and a listing on purposes for which the funds may be used. The sale of municipal bonds is a form of long-term borrowing that spreads the cost of major capital improvements over the life of the facility. This method of financing ensure that current and future users help pay for the improvements.

What can General Obligation (GO) Bonds be used for? 

General Obligation Bonds allow the county to pay for major capital investments having a public purpose, such as schools, public safety facilities, parks and libraries. Bonds are sold to investors and the proceeds from the sale of these bonds are used to pay for capital projects. Bond funds cannot be used for everyday operating costs. 

Project Criteria for Evaluating Bond Referendum Projects

  1. Does the project resolve a critical or time-sensitive need? 
  2. Does the project align with the county’s Strategic Plan and Public Facilities Plan? 
  3. Does the project address major maintenance issues? 
  4. Does the project work to maximize existing resources, such as proposing a renovation or rebuild? 
  5. Does the project propose eliminating lease space? 
  6. Does the project further community revitalization efforts? 

And specifically for schools…

  1. Is the project responsive to changing student enrollment, academic programs, and facility conditions? 


A long standing history of bond referendums in Chesterfield County:

1976Schools, public safety
1978Sewer, landfill, admin building, fire station, parks, library
1981Schools, school board selection, solid waste disposal, fire station
1985Schools, roads, fire stations, parks
1988Schools, public safety, library, parks, mental health
1996Schools, public safety, library, parks
2004Schools, public safety, library, parks, roads
2013Schools, public safety

2013 Bond Referendum Update

What was approved?

In November 2013, Chesterfield County voters overwhelmingly approved the issuance of $304 million in bonds to support school facility improvements and $49 million in bonds to support the replacement of the county’s emergency communications system. As the school projects began to develop, the school division determined that it was more fiscally responsible to replace, rather than renovate, five of the schools originally planned as renovations. Thus the 2013 referendum package was expanded from $304 million to $402 million to accommodate the full rebuilds.

So, how’s it going?

The School division has seen great success with the new prototype designs and the new third-party construction and administration model is working well. Construction bids are generally coming in within or under budget, which should provide additional resources to redeploy for other key capital initiatives, like major maintenance, later on.

On the public safety front, the Emergency Communications system implementation is making considerable progress. Additional towers are being added to the communication network, new radios have been installed and are in use today, and the technology system infrastructure is being built-out with the expectation to go-live during FY2022. Once completed, these upgrades will provide broader network capabilities and overall better system support. As a regional project, the benefits will not only be for Chesterfield residents, but also support emergency services no matter where you are within the metro-Richmond or tri-cities areas.

  1. Completed Projects
  2. Projects Still in Progress
  Project Status Total Budget
  Monacan High School Renovation Completed, September 2016 $17,281,800
  Providence Middle School Renovation Completed, January 2018 $27,970,000
  Beulah Elementary School Replacement Completed, September 2018 $30,407,000
  Enon Elementary School Replacement Completed, January 2019 $28,650,000
  Old Hundred Elementary School (New) Completed, September 2019 $34,169,000
  Manchester Middle School Replacement Completed, September 2020 $49,609,000
  Matoaca Elementary School Replacement Completed, September 2020 $33,760,000
  Harrowgate Elementary School Replacement Completed, September 2020 $34,677,100
  Crestwood Elementary School Replacement Completed, March 2021 $34,628,300