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Schools, public safety top focus of proposed Chesterfield budget

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CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Chesterfield County's $741 million 2018 Fiscal Year budget, which is the first proposal under new county manager Dr. Joseph Casey, focuses on public safety, schools, improving transportation, maintaining infrastructure and customer service.

But public safety and schools are top proprieties for Casey's budget wish list.

Chesterfield County

Chesterfield County

Public Safety 

For law enforcement, the budget focuses on retaining and recruiting more officers and deputies. Both departments are experiencing increasing turnover and are seeing a lower numbers of new applicants.

In fact, the police department has a 7 to 10-percent turnover rate because of attrition and officers taking jobs with federal agencies like the FBI.

"We lose many highly trained, competent police officers to salaries quite frankly that we can't compete with, not just as Chesterfield or as a region," Casey said. "Whether it's the FBI, is a good example, or Homeland positions. They're just very high paying and high demanding positions."

In addition, the budget has the county establishing a body-worn camera program with a $450,000 investment that is geared to improving officer safety and building more community trust.

The sheriff's office would also receive funding to have 24-hour nursing coverage in the jail as well as resources to continue the county's Heroin Addiction Recovery Program (HARP).

Cosby High School in Chesterfield County

Cosby High School in Chesterfield County

Schools 

The budget for the county's schools invests an extra $10.3 million for 2018, which includes a two-percent pay increase for school employees. That money would also add a special education coordinator for each elementary school and address the district's ogoing effort to reduce class sizes.

The proposed budget would also restore the financial viability of the school system's supplemental retirement program (SRP).

And it would fund the "Access Chesterfield" initiative to provide better transportation services for seniors and low-income families.

Taxes

As part of the annual budget, officials said the real estate tax rate will not increase. However, the average bi-monthly water bill is projected to increase by 4.9% over the FY 2017. Officials pointed out that the division’s rates remain among the lowest in the region.

Chesterfield County's budget proposal focuses on five core areas:

  • Public Safety
  • Schools
  • Transportation
  • Maintaining infrastructure
  • Improving customer service

Meetings 

The county will held a series of community meeting and workshops on the budget this month.

A budget work session is scheduled for March 15 from 12-6 p.m. in room 502 and meetings will be held at locations across the county about the budget from March 16-27.

Officials said 6200 people replied to surveys mailed to residents last summer seeking feedback on what they wanted from their government.

The budget is scheduled to be adopted on April 26.