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Chesterfield On Point

Posted on: April 5, 2022

Chesterfield's budget makes major investment in compensation for public safety, school employees

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Police trainingChesterfield Police Department

The fiscal year 2023 budget that will be voted on by the Board of Supervisors at its April 6 meeting is devoted primarily to the recruitment and retention of a high-quality workforce – particularly the thousands of front-line employees who serve in Chesterfield’s public safety agencies and schools.

To keep pace with the rising cost of labor and remain competitive for talent with Chesterfield’s peer localities, the proposed budget includes $13 million to raise starting salaries for sworn employees in the police, fire and sheriff’s departments by 12% and adjust the steps in their respective pay scales to prevent compression.

Effective July 1, newly hired police officers and firefighters in Chesterfield will receive starting pay of $51,006, while newly hired sheriff’s deputies will start at $48,118.

Once they complete the requirements for graduation from their respective academies, the annual salary will increase to $53,214 for police officers and firefighters and $51,006 for sheriff’s deputies.

That’s significant because the Board of Supervisors approved a new public safety pay plan last year to alleviate compression, which occurs when starting salaries increase at a faster rate than those for more experienced employees.

The pay plan has been successful in reducing turnover among Chesterfield’s first responders and addressing the acute staffing challenges faced by public safety agencies in recent years.

Avoiding the possibility of falling back into compression – by maintaining a sustainable, market-driven approach to compensation for front-line public safety and school-based employees -- remains a top priority of both county administration and the Board of Supervisors.

To that end, the proposed budget also makes a historic local investment in K-12 education.

As it did last year to accommodate adoption of a new pay plan that delivered significant raises for teachers and other school-based employees, Chesterfield’s general fund transfer to the school system is poised to grow by $18 million – matching the largest year-over-year increase in the county’s history.    

Effectively, though, the county is providing nearly $29 million in additional operating capacity for Chesterfield County Public Schools (CCPS) this year.

Fire AttackChesterfield Fire and EMS

When the Board of Supervisors paid off the unfunded liability in the school system’s supplemental retirement plan (SRP) last October, it freed up $10.9 million that CCPS would have had to contribute to the plan’s trust fund. That money can now be reallocated to other School Board priorities.

The Board of Supervisors and county administration have a shared commitment to provide resources that directly impact the classroom. 

The county’s proposed budget includes $36 million to raise starting salaries for teachers and other school-based positions by about 9%, and make corresponding adjustments for current employees to ensure that their pay scales remain decompressed.

The school-based positions include principals and assistant principals, guidance counselors, psychologists and instructional assistants. 

For the 2021-22 school year, Chesterfield already leads the Richmond region’s other two large counties – Henrico and Hanover – on 24 of the 30 steps in their respective teacher pay scales.

Over the course of a 30-year career, a teacher earns $37,116 more in Chesterfield than Henrico and $62,884 more in Chesterfield than Hanover.

While Chesterfield always strives to be competitive with starting salaries, such figures validate its approach to focus much more intently on retaining experienced teachers and encouraging them to build a career in our schools.

Both the county and school system also are making significant inroads in compensation for the remainder of their respective workforces.

The first phase of new pay plans for those general government and school central office employees is funded as part of this year’s budget. Full implementation could be accomplished through budget amendments once the General Assembly finalizes Virginia’s budget, or alternatively next year as part of Chesterfield’s fiscal year 2024 budget.  

Sheriff's OfficeChesterfield Sheriff's Office

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