Chesterfield county to cut workforce 10 percent

This story originally appeared in the Chesterfield Observer

Chesterfield County government will have about 10 percent fewer job positions this coming July, compared with the same time a year before. That represents 200 fewer full-time employees and vacant positions and 120 part-time employees and vacant positions.

The recession has sapped tax revenue from county budgets.

County Administrator Jay Stegmaier declined to say how many employees would lose their jobs and how many vacant positions would be eliminated. In the past 12 months, about 200 employees left the county – mostly when they changed jobs or retired.

This fiscal year, the county has laid off about five employees and achieved its budget reductions by eliminating vacant positions and cutting operating expenses. Some employees were transferred to other departments when their jobs were eliminated.

“I don’t want to use our employees as pawns or dramatize the cuts,” Stegmaier told the county’s Budget & Audit Committee last week.

Other county departments are taking an average 10.4 percent hit to spare more significant cuts to Chesterfield schools and public safety, which the county considers its top priorities. Unlike the school system, the county government is not recommending an across-the-board cut in pay for employees.

“Both sides – schools and the county – are saying we’re the leanest and meanest, but it begs the question, ‘Are we cutting the right 10 percent?’” said Dan Gecker, board of supervisors chairman. “We need to staff to the right level of services that we are providing to our citizens.”

Both Gecker and Vice Chairman Jim Holland, who also serves on B&A, have been asking for a reduction in the number of county programs in order to balance the budget. “We have a history of service reduction rather than program reduction,” said Gecker.

Stegmaier has been meeting with department heads to determine what reductions will be employee-based. According to employees who have contacted this newspaper, some department heads have advised employees likely to lose their jobs, and others have not.

Stegmaier is proposing spending cuts of $29.8 million. Schools would receive $13.2 million less in local funding, which includes a $2.3 million reduction in sales tax revenue. The county government is proposed to spend $14.1 million less, which includes cutting county departments.

The cuts are needed based on the current tax rates, which includes a property tax rate of 95 cents per $100 of assessed value. School officials and some citizens have been lobbying the supervisors to increase the rate by 4 or 5 cents, which would increase revenue by $3.2 million for each penny increase. If the supervisors agree to a hike, 40 percent of the increased revenue would be kept by the county while 60 percent would be transferred to the school system.

With the media present, county leaders didn’t get into many specifics of the cuts. The supervisors, however, are debating whether all libraries should be open during the same but fewer hours or rotating the days individual libraries close. That would allow citizens to visit another county library. Library costs are budgeted to be $1.5 million less.

New construction projects, including the Reams/Gordon and Robious Road libraries and a fire station on Harrowgate Road, are slated to be pushed back to save on debt service and operating expenses.

To meet the budget cuts, the county administrator is recommending “revenue enhancements” of $2.5 million. If approved by the board of supervisors, curbside recycling would be expanded to all homes and businesses by charging an annual fee of $22-$30 regardless of whether they participate. That was the recommendation by the county-appointed Citizen’s Recycling Advisory Committee. Currently, Chesterfield pays Central Virginia Waste Management Authority just over $2 million a year for curbside recycling with about 38 percent of households participating voluntarily.

This story originally appeared in the Chesterfield Observer

Chesterfield County government will have about 10 percent fewer job positions this coming July, compared with the same time a year before. That represents 200 fewer full-time employees and vacant positions and 120 part-time employees and vacant positions.

The recession has sapped tax revenue from county budgets.

County Administrator Jay Stegmaier declined to say how many employees would lose their jobs and how many vacant positions would be eliminated. In the past 12 months, about 200 employees left the county – mostly when they changed jobs or retired.

This fiscal year, the county has laid off about five employees and achieved its budget reductions by eliminating vacant positions and cutting operating expenses. Some employees were transferred to other departments when their jobs were eliminated.

“I don’t want to use our employees as pawns or dramatize the cuts,” Stegmaier told the county’s Budget & Audit Committee last week.

Other county departments are taking an average 10.4 percent hit to spare more significant cuts to Chesterfield schools and public safety, which the county considers its top priorities. Unlike the school system, the county government is not recommending an across-the-board cut in pay for employees.

“Both sides – schools and the county – are saying we’re the leanest and meanest, but it begs the question, ‘Are we cutting the right 10 percent?’” said Dan Gecker, board of supervisors chairman. “We need to staff to the right level of services that we are providing to our citizens.”

Both Gecker and Vice Chairman Jim Holland, who also serves on B&A, have been asking for a reduction in the number of county programs in order to balance the budget. “We have a history of service reduction rather than program reduction,” said Gecker.

Stegmaier has been meeting with department heads to determine what reductions will be employee-based. According to employees who have contacted this newspaper, some department heads have advised employees likely to lose their jobs, and others have not.

Stegmaier is proposing spending cuts of $29.8 million. Schools would receive $13.2 million less in local funding, which includes a $2.3 million reduction in sales tax revenue. The county government is proposed to spend $14.1 million less, which includes cutting county departments.

The cuts are needed based on the current tax rates, which includes a property tax rate of 95 cents per $100 of assessed value. School officials and some citizens have been lobbying the supervisors to increase the rate by 4 or 5 cents, which would increase revenue by $3.2 million for each penny increase. If the supervisors agree to a hike, 40 percent of the increased revenue would be kept by the county while 60 percent would be transferred to the school system.

With the media present, county leaders didn’t get into many specifics of the cuts. The supervisors, however, are debating whether all libraries should be open during the same but fewer hours or rotating the days individual libraries close. That would allow citizens to visit another county library. Library costs are budgeted to be $1.5 million less.

New construction projects, including the Reams/Gordon and Robious Road libraries and a fire station on Harrowgate Road, are slated to be pushed back to save on debt service and operating expenses.

To meet the budget cuts, the county administrator is recommending “revenue enhancements” of $2.5 million. If approved by the board of supervisors, curbside recycling would be expanded to all homes and businesses by charging an annual fee of $22-$30 regardless of whether they participate. That was the recommendation by the county-appointed Citizen’s Recycling Advisory Committee. Currently, Chesterfield pays Central Virginia Waste Management Authority just over $2 million a year for curbside recycling with about 38 percent of households participating voluntarily.

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james
james
12 years ago

Property taxes make up one-fourth of all county revenues. So you’d think if the county is short on revenue, they might want to work on increasing property tax collections, right? That’s building new homes and bringing in new business that can pay commercial property tax. The number of building permits issued has declined by 70 percent in three years. The building industry has asked the county to help it turn that number around in every way possible and the county refuses. I have no sympathy for Chesterfield; they know how to increase revenues and they simply won’t do it.

Blackbeered
Blackbeered
12 years ago

Typical behavior for the financial schemers running our County.

Nearly two-thirds of those 200 positions are now vacant and I suspect the other third will become vacant thru June. In other words, NO JOB CUTS.

The Board should insist that 200 real jobs be eliminated now.

Ryan Charles
Ryan Charles
12 years ago

Property taxes made up 49% of Chesterfield County revenue in 2009, not 25%. There is always fat that can be trimmed in government — let’s not make it be the ground forces (teachers, police officers, etc.) Same as in the corporate world… too many middle managers with tenure. And now there is legislation (looking like it is going to pass) for where taxpayers will be paying for government workers’ college education…

David Elswick
David Elswick
11 years ago

During 32 years in state government, I’ve seen a lot of $$ wasted. Best thing I ever saw the state do, was to allow each department to carry unspent money over from one year to the next. Without this approach, managers hold off on spending during most of the fiscal year because they are afraid additional budget cuts are coming. Then when 3 months are left in the fiscal year – the same managers start a stampede to spend all the money. They are in fear that if they do not spend all the money that has been allocated to… Read more »