With minor adjustments that didn’t change its bottom line, Henrico County supervisors have adopted a $1.5 billion spending plan that includes several tax rate reductions for fiscal year 2023.
Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the annual budget largely as it was proposed in early March. The budget is balanced on a real estate tax rate of 85 cents per $100 of assessed value, a 2-cent reduction from the current rate.
The reduction adds to an approved credit for real estate taxes paid this fiscal year that is equal to 2 cents per $100 of assessed value. The credit, considered the first of its kind in Virginia, followed a surplus declaration for real estate taxes paid in FY22.
With a $1.1 billion general fund, the budget reflects an increase of $79.6 million, or 8.1 percent, in funding to support governmental operations over the FY22 spending plan. It includes a 5 percent salary increase for all government and school employees, fully funds the proposed budget for Henrico County Public Schools and adds 22 new police officers, 11 firefighters and 84 teachers.
It also sets the stage for a $511.4 million bond referendum, to be held this fall, which would pay for capital projects over a six-year period including several new schools and infrastructure improvements.
Budget workshops held since the proposal was presented resulted in three relatively minor adjustments to funding amounts for non-departmental agencies and nonprofit groups whose services are considered beneficial to the county.
Those changes, as requested by the board, include an additional $10,000 for Maymont Foundation, bringing its total funding amount to $40,000; an additional $10,000 for Building Constructive Communities Foundation, bringing its total to $35,000; and $20,000 was added for Full Circle Grief Center.
The budget also slashes – by 74 percent – the county’s personal property tax rate for equipment used by biotechnology companies. The reduction, from $3.50 to 90 cents per $100 of assessed value, would make Henrico’s biotech tax rate the lowest in the state when the budget takes effect July 1.
The biotech tax cut stems from a discussion at the board’s annual retreat in January, when administrators initially proposed reducing the rate to $1 per $100. Chesterfield and Prince William counties are currently the lowest in the state at $1 per $100 for biotech and R&D equipment.
Other aspects of the budget aimed at attracting economic development include $2.7 million allocated to neighborhood revitalization, $2 million of which is to be put toward lower-income housing in the county; $750,000 to fund the Henrico Investment Program, an incentives program for development in older commercial corridors that the county rolled out last year; and creation of a technology zone for Innsbrook.
The technology zone program, the county’s first, would offer incentives to foster development and location of tech businesses in Innsbrook, a decades-old business park that’s been undergoing a mixed-use transition following the county’s creation of an urban mixed-use overlay district there.