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Henrico raises for gov., HCPS workers would range from 4.4% -14%

Henrico County has detailed a proposal that would provide sweeping salary adjustments for employees of the county’s general government and Henrico County Public Schools, beginning this spring and continuing into fiscal year 2021-22.

If approved by the Board of Supervisors, the plan would represent the most substantial effort to ensure the pay of Henrico’s public workforce remains competitive and that long-tenured employees are recognized for their service and experience.

The plan would apply a series of pay increases to different employee groups over the coming months, resulting in pay increases ranging from 4.4% to more than 14% in some instances. Teachers, for example, would receive raises totaling 6.9%. These increases along with ones for police officers and firefighters would make Henrico the region’s pay leader for these critical positions. The county has nearly 11,800 employees between its general government and school system (HCPS).

County Manager John A. Vithoulkas, who outlined the plan at tonight’s meeting of the Board of Supervisors, said the reinvestment in employees is possible due to the county’s conservative fiscal management, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Before the Board of Supervisors adopted the county’s budget for fiscal 2020-21 last spring, officials eliminated about $99 million in proposed expenses, including a 3 percent pay increase for general government and HCPS employees.

The ​plan salary adjustments will be formally considered this spring as part of a budget for fiscal 2021-22 and would cost a combined $54 million in the current and next fiscal years. The adjustments, which will not require a tax rate increase, stem from Henrico’s review of employee compensation that started in 2018. In addition, officials are beginning to increase the county’s minimum wage, with a rate of $15 per hour expected within two years.

“These raises for our hardworking county and HCPS employees are much needed and well deserved,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Daniel J. Schmitt, of the Brookland District. “As a county, we are able to consider a plan of this magnitude only because of Henrico’s many years of conservative fiscal management. The unknowns we faced as we entered the pandemic last year forced us to make extremely difficult decisions about our budget. Because of the aggressive cuts we made then, we are able to take bold action now.”

Other board members agreed.

“The pandemic has proven that great employees really are invaluable,” said Vice Chairman Patricia S. O’Bannon, of the Tuckahoe District. “Henrico must take these steps to ensure that our salaries remain competitive so we can continue to attract and retain the most experienced, well-trained and efficient workforce.”

“COVID-19 has tested our employees in ways that we could not have imagined,” Fairfield District Supervisor Frank J. Thornton said. “As a county, we must recognize their continued commitment, hard work and ingenuity. These pay adjustments show that Henrico has heart and cares deeply about those who serve our residents, businesses and community every day.”

“I appreciate the dedication and patience our first responders, teachers and other county and HCPS employees have shown throughout the pandemic,” Three Chopt District Supervisor Thomas M. Branin said. “Last spring, we asked them to do more and to work longer, even as we tabled a proposed pay increase. It is a blessing that we can now provide these well-earned raises. This plan will allow Henrico to remain the pay leader for the region.”

“Employees are the heart and soul of Henrico County’s government and its school system,” Varina District Supervisor Tyrone E. Nelson said. “They are on the front lines as teachers, police officers and firefighters. They care for our roads, pick up our trash and work in countless other ways that reflect in Henrico’s stellar reputation and great quality of life. I am pleased to be able to support a plan that acknowledges the dedication and hard work of those who directly serve our community.”

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