CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WRIC) — Chesterfield County approved a pay boost for public safety personnel and teachers as part of their annual budget last week, despite continued uncertainty over ongoing state budget negotiations.

“Really, this budget is the year of the workforce,” Deputy County Administrator Matt Harris said.

The budget, as approved by the Chesterfield Board of Supervisors, includes a 12.1% increase to the base-starting pay of public safety officers — including firefighters, sheriff’s deputies and police officers — and a 7.5% increase to the base-starting pay of Chesterfield teachers.

“I feel really good that we have been able to give them the compensation that is needed to attract and retain employees,” said Leslie Haley, vice chair of the Board of Supervisors.

(Graphic courtesy of Chesterfield County)

According to a budget presentation given to the board, Chesterfield teachers will now receive a starting pay of $49,481.

Job postings on Chesterfield’s hiring site indicate that most teaching positions require a college education and state certifications, as well as, in some cases, an advanced graduate degree in a specific subject area. Job postings for county police positions list a high school diploma/GED and field training as requirements of the position.

The pay increases are designed to “keep pace with the rising cost of labor and remain competitive for talent,” according to a statement issued by the county.

Facing Uncertainty

While board members have publicly committed to preserving those pay increases, regardless of what comes in the budget from Richmond, they expressed frustration over the delayed state budget.

“I wanted to defer till the end of the month,” said Jim Ingle, member from the Bermuda District. “But with the comments I’ve heard from the state, we might not see a budget from the state until the end of June.”

Budget negotiations in the General Assembly have been fraught, with the Republican-controlled House of Delegates and Democrat-controlled Senate butting heads over major spending and taxation priorities.

In the meantime, localities like Chesterfield face looming deadlines. In Chesterfield’s case, that date is May 1.

While the county can still amend its adopted budget, it’s legally required to deliver a budget by the end of the month — and so the board voted unanimously to approve the version before them, even without knowing what Virginia will ultimately give them.

“The state needs to get its act together,” Ingle concluded.