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Henrico’s proposed budget includes salary increases, weekend bus routes

HENRICO, Va. — For the first time, GRTC customers in Henrico County would be able to ride the bus on weekends, if the Henrico Board of Supervisors approves the fiscal year 2018-2019 budget proposed by County Manager John Vithoulkas, Tuesday night.

The proposal allocates $1.2 million for three weekend routes that would run 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday. This would be the largest bus transit expansion proposed for Henrico County in over 25 years.

The county manager’s budget proposal also includes a 2.4 percent merit-based salary increase effective July 1st for all county employees, including teachers, firefighters and police officers.

In addition, employees who have worked for the county for six or more years would be eligible for an additional 0.6% increase, for a total salary increase of 3 percent.

Vithoulkas also wants to allocate $2 million for a “Community Revitalization Fund” to help assist in the redevelopment of older neighborhoods. For example, if a house in a particular neighborhood has been abandoned and the owner is deceased, the county could step in using these funds and provide money to a non-profit to tear the house down and redo it.

The county manager’s proposed budget also provides the school system with the additional revenue they asked for, which totals $21.4 million.

Henrico’s jail population has grown dramatically, county officials said, largely due to an opioid crisis. The proposed budget adds $500,000 to address inmate food costs and recognizes the $912,500 to house additional Henrico female inmates in Chesterfield.

The proposed budget does not increase the county’s real estate tax rate, and also increases the number of business in the county that would qualify for the gross receipts tax exemption from roughly 13,000 business to nearly 14,000 businesses.

It does, however, increase the county’s water and sewer rates, which translates to an additional $6.91 every two months for an average resident. The increase will help pay for the construction of the Cobbs Creek Reservoir, which when completed, will take care of the county’s water needs for the next 50 years.

Henrico attributed the majority of its $42.7 million revenue growth (prior to transfers) to real estate, personal property, and sales taxes, in addition to a 3.8 percent increase in state aid for schools.

There will be a public hearing on the budget on April 10, and the board could potentially adopt the budget on April 24.