CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WRIC) — Just over a dozen Chesterfield residents gathered in a large conference room at the Ettrick-Matoaca Library Tuesday night to watch a presentation by county officials on the $540 million bond referendum that will appear on their ballots this November. If any were enthusiastic supporters — or, indeed, opponents — of the bond proposal, they did not show any sign of it.
The presentation lasted for just a little under an hour and ran through the key points of the bond referendum, which include new schools, parks, fire stations and police stations.
According to a county official, the bonds, if approved, will be the “largest component” of the county’s capital improvement projects for the foreseeable future.
He said they should think of the debt as a positive thing for the county — especially as the last round of bond funding is paid down over the next few years.
“Just like when you want to buy a house, you get a mortgage,” he said. “This will allow us to invest in our assets.”
You can explore the key projects that will be funded in the proposal below:
Tailoring the presentation to local residents, the official highlighted the replacement of the nearby Ettrick Fire Station and the very library the meeting was taking place in as priorities of the bond proposal.
But when he asked whether there were any questions from the gathered residents, he was met with a wall of silence.
Shortly afterward, Matoaca Supervisor Kevin Carrol took over. A former police officer, Carroll emphasized the construction of new police stations as an important priority, noting that the county currently pays rent on most of the community stations.
“For the amount of time that we’ve been in these stations, paying leases, we could’ve paid for the stations,” he said.
And some of the makeshift locations, he noted, were less than ideal, including some former fast food restaurants now serving a new purpose as public safety centers.
Of one station in Midlothian, Carroll said, “When I was a young police officer back in 1987, I used to eat sandwiches at that Bill’s Barbecue.”
Throughout, it was nearly impossible to read the attitudes of the residents gathered to watch the presentation. When Carroll himself offered to answer any questions they had, whether about the bond referendum or any other county matters, one man did speak up — but it turned out that he was a Midlothian resident who had simply missed his own community’s meeting last week.
In any case, the bond referendum is likely to pass with a comfortable margin of support in November. It’s very rare in Virginia for the residents of a fiscally-healthy county to reject public spending on facilities that, after all, they use nearly every day.