In case you missed the Dec. 14 Board of Supervisors meeting, here is a brief recap of items from the board’s monthly work session and business meeting:
REAL ESTATE TAX RATE
The board authorized staff to advertise Chesterfield’s maximum real estate tax rate for 2023 at 91 cents per $100 of assessed value, ensuring property owners will receive at least a 1-cent rate reduction in the coming year.
Such action leaves the board the flexibility to adopt any rate up to, but not higher than the one advertised, as part of the county’s fiscal year 2024 budget process.
Mindful of the impact of rising assessments on household finances, the board last December approved capping Chesterfield’s 2022 tax rate on real estate at 93 cents per $100 of assessed value – a 2-cent reduction. It later cut the rate by another penny to the current 92 cents.
Each 1-cent change in the real estate tax rate amounts to about $5 million in revenue.
TAX RELIEF FOR ELDERLY AND DISABLED
The board raised the eligibility thresholds for Chesterfield’s real estate tax relief program for the elderly and disabled to ensure that seniors who qualified in 2022 aren’t rendered ineligible next year by an 8.7% cost of living increase in their Social Security benefits.
Currently, county residents age 65 and above and citizens who have been deemed permanently and totally disabled can receive 100% abatement of their real estate taxes if they have annual income up to $33,400. That amount will increase to $36,300 for 2023.
The income bracket for 60% relief is rising from $33,401-$41,400 to $36,301-$45,000.
Likewise, the bracket for 35% relief is being adjusted upward from $41,401-$55,200 to $45,001-$60,000.
The net worth threshold for program participants, which hasn’t been raised in many years, also is getting a corresponding 8.7% increase. Currently, seniors and the disabled must have a net worth (excluding their primary residence) of $350,000 or less to qualify for real estate tax relief; the new ceiling is $380,500.
FISCAL YEAR 2023 BUDGET AMENDMENTS
The board reappropriated nearly $50 million in county government and school system operating surpluses from fiscal year 2022, which ended June 30, and authorized the use of the money for other purposes as amendments to their respective fiscal year 2023 budgets.
The county will allocate $28.1 million of its $49.2 million year-end surplus for one-time uses and land purchases, including a $5 million contribution to schools for classroom conversions and safety enhancements, while keeping $21.1 million in various reserve accounts.
Of Chesterfield County Public Schools’ $21.3 million surplus, $5.8 million will be allocated to backfill a loss of capital dollars from the state. Another $5 million will buy down healthcare premiums for employees and $3 million will cover the local portion of a partially funded $1,000 state bonus.
SITE ACQUISITION FOR REPLACEMENT CHESTER FIRE STATION
The board approved the purchase of seven parcels of land on West Hundred Road, totaling 9.6 acres, as the site of the replacement Chester Fire Station No. 1.
The existing 60-year-old facility has exceeded its useful life and is no longer adequate to meet the demands of modern fire and emergency medical service operations. The replacement station will be designed to meet current industry standards and enhance firefighter safety and health. The building is envisioned as a three-bay, approximately 15,000 square foot facility that will accommodate a fire engine and ambulance with existing staffing.
The new fire station, which was recently approved by Chesterfield voters as part of the 2022 bond referendum, will also provide much needed space to house reserve fire vehicles and will enable space for future resources needed to address growing or changing community risks.
As part of facility planning, Fire and EMS determined that a site in close proximity to the existing station would provide optimal coverage and response times, to include emergency response access to the planned Fall Line Trail. A site selection team made up of several county departments evaluated 10 potential sites in the desired area and determined that the West Hundred Road parcels are the most viable option.
In addition to the fire station use, purchase of these parcels will allow for co-located Parks and Recreation facilities to provide amenities for the existing Chester Linear Park. Specifically, this site will facilitate the creation of parking, picnic and rest areas and a shared-use path connection from Chester Linear Park to the Fall Line Trail.
REVISED COMMUNITY FACILITIES PLAN
Following a public hearing, the board approved amendments to the chapter of Chesterfield’s comprehensive plan that guides the location of new public facilities and identifies appropriate levels of service (LOS) for department operations.
The update to Chapter 15, the Community Facilities Plan, recognizes the role of the county's Strategic Information System (StratIS) in the facility planning process by removing obsolete data. It also more closely aligns the plan with the county's adopted capital improvement program (CIP), shortening facility planning to a 5-year outlook to focus on implementable projects.
Most level of service information in the Community Facilities Plan is unchanged, although the schools section has been updated to reflect a new 95% of program capacity LOS goal and increased design capacity standards for new schools (1,000 students for elementary schools, 1,800 students for middle schools, and 2,400 students for high schools).