HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - After pay raises were frozen in 2020 due to the pandemic, Henrico leaders have outlined a plan which would provide larger raises than previously anticipated for county employees.
On Tuesday, Henrico County Manager John Vithoulkas proposed a plan to increase salaries for general government and school employees between 4.4% and more than 14% in some cases.
“We are choosing to prioritize people over other programs over the next year or two,” said Henrico County Finance Director Meghan Coates.
The plan would apply a series of pay increases to different employee groups over the coming months.
“Beginning in April is a 2% across the board scale adjustment and then a series of market adjustments being put forward for public safety and school employees,” Vithoulkas said. “You will also see a merit increase of 2.4% effective the first pay period in July.”
Additionally, for the first time ever, there is also a raise for length of service in the county.
“Longevity increases will come about in October,” Vithoulkas said.
“If you come to Henrico County we want you to make this a career and we want you to retire,” said Rev. Tyrone Nelson, Varina District Supervisor.
While the Board of Supervisors has yet to vote on this plan, many were vocal about their approval especially after freezing salaries last year.
“Strength at emergence,” said Board Chairman and Brookland District Supervisor Daniel Schmitt. “Strength to reemerge in a time when the economy is ready to go; we will be prepared.”
“How do we thank our firefighters for running into nursing home at the onset of this pandemic?” Vithoulkas said during his presentation. “While later over 10% of the workforce was out due to COVID protocols.”
All 11,000-plus employees have faced unique challenges throughout the pandemic; school employees making up the larger portion of this number.
While a 4.4% raise is a minimum on the table, teachers will have at least a 6.9% raise.
“I know some people are thinking well teachers weren’t in the classroom, but they had to figure out a way to use those computers and do things remotely and pay attention to a screen full of kids and make sure they get the work done,” said Vice-Chairman and Tuckahoe District Supervisor Pat O’Bannon.
“These increases along with ones for police officers and firefighters would make Henrico the region’s pay leader for these critical positions,” a news release stated. “The county has nearly 11,800 employees between its general government and school system (HCPS).”
Vithoulkas added the plan is possible due to conservative fiscal management during the pandemic.
“The plan salary adjustments will be formally considered this spring as part of a budget for fiscal 2021-22 and would cost a combined $54 million in the current and next fiscal years. The adjustments, which will not require a tax rate increase, stem from Henrico’s review of employee compensation that started in 2018,” the release said.
Additionally, part-time employees would be included in this plan.
“The staff that we have that run in if we have a contaminated office, or space - this plan also takes that staff, custodial staff at schools to a $15 minimum wage over a two-year period,” Vithoulkas said.
The Board of Supervisors is expected to vote on the 2021-2022 fiscal year budget in May.
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