Chesterfield leaders present $540M bond referendum proposal
Voters will have the final say in this November’s election.
CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WWBT) - Inside the Chesterfield Administration Building on Thursday, leaders from Chesterfield County and the school division presented their plans for a $540 million bond referendum, which voters will decide on during the November elections.
Every eight to ten years, the county aims to borrow another huge sum to upkeep or build new facilities such as schools, libraries, parks, and police and fire stations. If approved, $540 million in bonds would go towards 26 projects around the county.
This work is all financed through bonds that can be paid back at the lowest interest rates.
Here’s a breakdown of where that money would go:
- $375 million for schools
- $47 million for libraries
- $38 million for parks and recreation
- $81 million for public safety.
In 2019, the work on the bond referendum started but was delayed due to COVID-19.
“We started this process in 2019 really,” said Matt Harris, deputy county administrator for finance and administration with Chesterfield County. “We had a package ready to go and we would’ve put it on the ballot if it weren’t for COVID.”
On Thursday afternoon, Chesterfield County Administrator Dr. Joseph Casey opened the media briefing about the $540 million bond referendum discussing their goal to inform the community as much as possible about this ballot item.
“We want to them to be able to engage, have them be informed,” said Dr. Casey.
Harris led the bond referendum presentation, discussing the individual projects under each of the four categories and the reasons behind selected projects
For schools, Harris said $375 million would go towards facility improvements for area schools.
Under the plan, three elementary schools, including AM Davis, Bensley, and Grange Hall, would be replaced. $50 million would also go towards replacing Midlothian Middle School, which county leaders say will supplement the total project cost of $100 million. The additional $50 million for this replacement project would come from other funding sources.
Thomas Dale High School would also get a $22 million expansion and there would be a new elementary and high school build in the western area of Hull Street Road.
Joe Tylus, deputy superintendent for Chesterfield County Public Schools, said this would address needs for the school division.
“Part of it deals with capacity, there’s no question as far as that can be an issue,” Tylus said. “As well as how buildings have aged on as far as time. Some of them, as we noted, are almost 100 years old. Grange Hall is one of those schools.”
$81 million from the bond referendum would also go towards public safety, which includes improvements to police and fire stations.
On the table is two $12.3 million projects to replace fire and rescue stations in Chester and Ettrick. $9.3 million is also slated for the expansion and renovation of the Clover Hill Fire and Rescue Station along with $8.1 million for the expansion and renovation of the fire and rescue station in Dutch Gap.
Funding would also cover construction costs to build permanent police stations in four Chesterfield precincts. Harris notes this will allow them to save on the money currently spent to lease spaces, including the Midlothian police station.
“These will be more modern, county-owned, stations that meet the needs of the police department,” Harris said during the presentation.
$45.7 million would go towards improving libraries in the Chesterfield area, which including replacing Enon Library and expanding the Ettrick-Matoaca Library. There are also funds to build a new library in Western Hull Street.
$38.2 million would also go towards projects in Parks and Recreation, with $17.2 million going towards enhancements at River City Sportsplex.
Under this bond referendum, Harris said county leaders would not pursue meals or other new taxes to support these planned debt service obligations. Instead, Harris said the county can support this with their existing resources.
“It’s just a general property tax expense,” Harris said during the press briefing. “There’s nothing specific from a revenue source that goes to debt service in particular. Real estate tax, personal property tax, sales tax would be the main source.”
Chesterfield County will go through several steps of community engagement to inform the public about the bond referendum, including National Night Out on Aug. 2. County officials add there will be joint meetings about the ballot item from the middle of August through September.
Chesterfield residents will have the final say on the bond referendum on their ballots this November. In-person early voting also begins on Sept. 23.
To learn more about the bond referendum on the ballot, click here.
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