CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) – Chesterfield County is once again dealing with a multi-million dollar budget shortfall. Monday night, county leaders unveiled their spending plan. It is a $700.4 million budget that includes 86 job cuts and a decrease in services residents use every day.
Chesterfield officials said they need residents to understand exactly why they have to cut the budget. Think about it this way-- imagine your electric bill goes up and at the same time your income goes down. That bill needs to get paid; you have to keep your lights on. The question becomes: what else can you live without?
If it were up to Colonel Thierry Dupuis, the Chesterfield Police Department would get back every single dollar the county has cut from it in the last three years. In reality though, once again Colonel Dupuis has to slash funds.
"It translates in our inability to be as flexible as we want to be," said Dupuis.
Dupuis told the County Board of Supervisors Monday night, next year's budget picture includes cutting four patrolmen and three civilian positions, along with a couple dozen department vehicles.
"Response times, I think will grow," he said. "We'll still go. It might take us a little more time. And when you start talking about a geographic area as large as Chesterfield County, it becomes tough to police."
That's not the only place residents will feel the impacts of tough economic times. Included in the county administrator's proposal are cuts to parks and recreation, like closing of historic sites and no longer funding adult athletic programs.
Library funding is also on the chopping block, moving branches to a five day schedule, instead of the current six.
The school board will also have to find places to cut because education will see reductions in funding on the local and state levels.
Board Chairman Dan Gecker said it doesn't look like this problem is going to go away any time soon.
"The county has got to learn to live within its resources," he said. "We are not anticipating large increases in revenue and so we need to cut the budget."
The board will also consider a recycling fee that could raise $2.5 million. Right now, the budget is just a proposal. The board will hold public hearings and isn't scheduled to vote until April 14.