Henrico officials close to finalizing November bond referendum draft slate


Quioccasin Middle School would be completely rebuilt as part of an $89 million project that is expected to be included in the November bond referendum. (Analise Beres for the Henrico Citizen)

Henrico County officials have nearly finalized the list of infrastructure projects that will appear in a bond referendum in November to be decided by voters.

The County Board of Supervisors heard its second referendum update in about two months on Saturday during a one-day retreat. The updated plans, slightly adjusted since the last update they received in November, now tentatively call for $514.4 million in funding for projects that would cost $534.4 million in total. (Finance officials are proposing that preliminary design work for five of the projects, totaling $20 million, be funded from other sources.)

The projects would include the complete reconstruction of four public schools – Quioccasin Middle School and Davis, Highland Springs and Longan Elementary Schools – and the construction of two new elementary schools, as well as the relocation of two fire stations, the construction of a new noting an animal sanctuary, the creation of a new park in the Far West End and the construction of a state-of-the-art public safety training center, among others.

Initial plans called for the renovation of Quioccasin, but officials opted for a full rebuild instead — and plans to rebuild Highland Springs Elementary prompted a request from Varina District Supervisor Tyrone Nelson when discussing the board in November.

Improvement plans for Deep Bottom Park in Varina ($10 million) and Tuckahoe Creek Park in the Far West End ($5 million) have also been added to the list of projects in the past two months.

The full tentative list of proposed bond referendum bills:
• $89 million for the reconstruction of Quioccasin Middle School;
• $45 million for the reconstruction of Highland Springs Elementary School;
• 42 million dollars for the reconstruction of the Longan primary school;
• $41 million for the reconstruction of Davis Elementary School;
• $26.5 million for the renovation of the original part of Holladay Elementary School;
• $47.7 million for the construction of a new elementary school in the West End;
• $46 million for the construction of a new elementary school in the River Mill area;
• $16.3 million for the construction of an environmental education residence for the public school system;
• $16 million for moving fire station No. 1;
• $15.3 million for moving fire station No. 6;
• $15 million for the replacement of fire station No. 11;
• $6.6 million for improvements to fire stations 14, 15, 16 and 17.
• $18 million for the construction of a new public safety training center for the Fire Division;
• $30 million for construction of a new Three Chopt area park south of Kain Road, and associated road improvements and construction;
• $15 million for the construction of a no-kill animal shelter south of Kain Road;
• $50 million for various drainage improvement projects in the county;
• $10 million for various improvements to Deep Bottom Park in Varina;
• $5 million for the next phase of Tuckahoe Creek Park.

On Saturday, Fairfield District Supervisor Frank Thornton implored officials to add a project to his district – a renovation of the Vawter Street/Glen Lea recreation area, a complex used for decades by sports organizations to young people from Glen Lea. The project has been listed on the county’s capital improvement program (desired infrastructure improvements) for years, most recently at an estimated cost of nearly $6 million, but the CIP is not funded. one year at a time, and the project has not been included for funding to date.

Henrico County Executive John Vithoulkas told Thornton that he and Director of Recreation and Parks Neil Luther plan to walk the site with Thornton sometime in the near future to assess it and consider including it.

“There is no doubt about the financial aspect if we can include it,” Vithoulkas said. “Absoutely.”

The county is in arguably its most comfortable financial position ever, with a general fund (or “rainy day fund”) balance of $413 million – the highest that total has ever been. , equal to approximately 40% of its total annual expenditure. (The county aims to have a fund balance of at least 15% of its annual expenditures each year.)

Voters will be able to vote on the referendum by segments; projects will be divided into categories (education, public safety, recreation and parks, for example), and those that gain majority approval will pass, allowing the county to sell bonds to fund the projects and incur associated debt.

County voters have approved 10 of the previous 14 referendums; the last to fail was a meal tax proposal in 2005, but voters then approved the measure eight years later. The county bond referendum in 2016, totaling $419.8 million, passed with an overwhelming majority.

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