A meals tax could be taking a front seat at the table in Chesterfield County, but a real estate tax is out for this year. The Board decided that Wednesday night.
The county still has three big projects to pay for, and they still need to figure out a way to fund them. On the list: funding the Virginia Retirement System, helping pay for cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay, and improving aging county buildings - mostly schools.
Combined, the projects will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, but a way to pay for them isn't guaranteed at this point. The real estate tax is out, and there's no guarantee voters would support a meals tax.
So how do they pay for the projects without a meals tax? The County doesn't have a ton of flexibility. It's mandated to contribute to the VRS and Chesapeake Bay. The schools are what would have to stretch and wait, or see fewer improvements.
"It's not just we've got some aging facilities that need to be repaired, but let's look at can we bring some parity to facilities in all areas of our county," said Allan Carmody, with Chesterfield County's Budget Team.
Compare, for example, newer schools like Cosby to older schools like Matoaca or Beulah. Another option could be to cut other services in the County to make all the school improvements. The County could vote to take even longer to make the improvements, or do fewer of them.
They could also cut other county services, instead of cutting funding to these improvements.
"In it's simplest form, it really does come down to making those choices," said Carmody. "Because at the end of the day we're going to balance our budget."
And right now, with the real estate tax out, a meals tax seems to be a front runner for paying to get the work done. We did previously poll the Board about a possible meals tax, here's what they had to say then.
A referendum has not formally been requested, but the Supervisors have asked county leaders to put together some information about how a meals tax might work.
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