RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Although provisional and mail-in ballots received after Election Day were still being counted as of Wednesday evening, multi-million-dollar bond proposals in Chesterfield and Henrico Counties garnered significant support at the polls.
8News spoke with Chesterfield’s Deputy County Administrator for Finance and Administration, Matt Harris, and his counterpart in Henrico County, Brandon Hinton, about the next steps in each locality.
Voters in Henrico County approved a $511 million bond proposal, the majority of which is slated to fund school projects.
“A bond referendum allows us to issue what’s called general obligation bonds,” Hinton said. “It’s the cheapest form of debt a county can incur.”
The locality’s bond proposal also allocated funds for park and road improvements, fire station rebuilds, a new Public Safety training center, a new animal shelter and adoption center, and storm water drainage upgrades.
“We are not issuing all these bonds at one time,” Hinton said. “These are strategically spread out amongst multiple years.”
Hinton noted that the design process for the priority projects with approved funding takes approximately 10 months. From there, he estimated that construction activity could begin by next fall.
Among those priority projects are:
- The new $13.3 million Environmental Education Living Building at Wilton Farm, which will feature zero net-energy usage, serving students countywide.
- Rebuilding and increasing capacity at Jackson Davis and R.C. Longan Elementary Schools for $36 million and $37 million, respectively.
- $25 million for a Three Copt area park and road improvements.
- The $13.3 million relocation and rebuilding of Firehouse 6.
“The immediate impact is we get started on the priority projects right away, and then we have a plan for the next six years to appropriate dollars, and there’ll be construction activity from this referendum for the next 10 years,” Hinton said. “These needs are needed now, and this allows us the opportunity to jump on them as soon as we can.”
Meanwhile, with Chesterfield County’s $540 million approval, Harris said the next step is to identify which projects will move forward first.
“Starting in December and January with both boards — Board of Supervisors and the School Board — we’ll bring back that approved list for each respective group,” Harris said. “We’ll come up with a revised or sort of formalized order of the projects. So that’s the next major step, and then, for that first group of two or three projects, we will have an actual bond sale in the spring; probably in May, close in June, and then we’re off to the races, in terms of actually turning dirt over in July or August.”
Harris noted that work on the Eastern Midlothian police station, redevelopment at Spring Rock Green and the replacement of A.M. Davis Elementary School are likely to be among the initial priority projects, though he also said that community conversations would ultimately finalize that list.
“It really means the most when we can go out to the market and borrow with an approved referendum in our pocket,” Harris said. “That means we can get the lowest possible interest rate, and, I think everybody who has bought a gallon of milk or a gallon of gas understands, with prices and interest rates as they are right now, it’s never been more important for us to be able to borrow at those lowest rates.”