Chesterfield publicly kicked off the fiscal year 2025 budget process Tuesday afternoon with a virtual town hall co-hosted by Deputy County Administrator Matt Harris and Budget Director Gerard Durkin.
The town hall was streamed live on the county’s Facebook page and will also be available for viewing on YouTube.
Harris and Durkin discussed several finance-related items that will be on the agenda for the Board of Supervisors’ Dec. 13 meeting, including $92 million in proposed amendments to the county’s and school division’s fiscal year 2024 budgets.
The money comes from a variety of sources: county and schools fiscal year 2023 operating surpluses ($34.5 million), one-time reserves ($23 million), interest earnings ($19.8 million) and current-year revenues ($14.6 million).
Roughly half of the latter total has been generated through the issuance of county permits associated with the ongoing construction of LEGO’s 1.7 million-square-foot precision manufacturing facility at Meadowville Technology Park.
“We’re taking one-time monies that are available and investing it in one-time uses. That marriage is very important to us and good budget policy,” Harris said.
Of the $61.8 million in proposed school allocations, more than half ($30.6 million) is earmarked for infrastructure projects to accommodate new elementary, middle and high schools in the fast-growing western Route 360 corridor.
Another $11 million has been designated for the two new middle schools currently under construction in Chesterfield: one to relieve overcrowding at Tomahawk Creek Middle and a larger, modern replacement for Falling Creek Middle.
“One thing I want to emphasize is the heavy investment in schools,” Harris added. “We talk about that every year during budget season that it’s not just when the board votes in April that we invest in the school division – it happens year-round in many ways and this is a great example of that.”
Citizens have an opportunity to comment on the proposed budget amendments during a public hearing next Wednesday, after which the Board of Supervisors is expected to vote.
The board also is scheduled to take action on two other financial topics at the Dec. 13 meeting: setting Chesterfield’s maximum real estate tax rate for calendar year 2024 and adjusting the eligibility thresholds in a tax relief program for the disabled and elderly.
Recognizing the adverse effect of inflation on residents who live on fixed income, the board raises the program's income brackets and maximum net worth annually to align with Social Security cost of living adjustments (COLA).
The Social Security Administration has announced plans for a 3.2% COLA adjustment for 2024; pending a public hearing, the county’s proposal is to increase the tax relief brackets and maximum net worth by the same percentage.