Chesterfield passes FY23 budget with wage increases and tax rate cut

The Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors voted on Wednesday to pass a $1.8 billion budget for fiscal year 2023. (BizSense File)

Chesterfield County is increasing starting salaries for first responders and teachers as part of its newly approved budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

The Supervisory Board voted Wednesday to pass a $1.8 billion budget for FY2023, an increase of $185.3 million from the current FY22 budget. FY23 begins July 1 .

Council also approved a 3 cent reduction in the property tax rate to 92 cents per $100 of assessed value.

In drafting the budget, particular attention was paid to compensation and retention of the workforce. The county allocated $35.6 million, more than a third of a $98 million increase to the county’s general fund, to increase employee salaries. The General Fund is the main operating fund of the budget and is set at $905.1 million for FY23.

The budget provides $12.5 million to increase starting salaries for first responders and avoid wage compression — or when the gap closes between the salaries of lower-level and higher-level employees.

The county is increasing the starting salary of sworn first responders by 12%. New police officers and firefighters will have a starting salary of around $53,000 and sheriff’s deputies will have a starting salary of around $51,000 after graduating from the academy, the deputy administrator said. of the county for finance and administration, Matt Harris, during his presentation to council on Wednesday.

An additional $15 million will go to pay raises for non-public safety and non-school county employees. County officials said they plan to raise the minimum hourly wage for county government jobs to $16 in the next few fiscal years.

The budget adjusts salaries for county government employees whose salaries are below the median. The budget also provides a 5% increase for employees who do not work in public safety or schools and who have already exceeded this threshold.

The budget provides $60 million for salary increases for school division employees. Harris said the budget includes $36 million to increase starting salaries for teachers and positions in schools by 9%.

The teachers’ starting salary will be around $49,500. School-based employees include principals, vice-principals, guidance counsellors, teacher’s aides and psychologists.

Chesterfield officials said the focus on labor compensation stemmed from a desire to make the county a competitive employer in a tight labor market and changing economy.

Despite the property tax rate reduction, the county expects property tax revenue to increase to $473.3 million in FY23 (an increase of $55.9 million from compared to the current fiscal year), due to the increase in valuations.

The county will raise utility rates to $2.36 per 100 cubic feet for water and $2.43 per 100 cubic feet for sewer and cut its vehicle registration fees in half to $20 during of exercise 23.

The county’s five-year capital improvement plan allocates $612.9 million to county government projects and $451.3 million to school division projects.

In November, Chesterfield plans to hold a bond referendum on $540 million in general bonds to fund county government and school division projects.