Chesterfield voters OK bonds for schools, radio system but not meals tax
By Blake Belden, Staff Writer
Nov 6, 2013, 14:46
CHESTERFIELD — Chesterfield voters finished election night in favor of $353 million worth of bonds towards public safety and school reconstruction, but shot down a two percent meals tax which would have gone towards funding the bond payments.
There were three separate referendum votes on the Chesterfield ballot on Tuesday night: $304 million in bonds for school facility improvements and construction, $49 million in bonds to replace the county’s emergency communications system and the implementation of a meals tax to help provide additional funding to pay off the two bonds.
Both bond referendums won with more than 70 percent of votes, with 71,830 of 100,424 voting ‘yes’ for the school bond projects and 70,525 of 100,472 voting ‘yes’ for the communications system project.
However, the meals tax lost the vote by a much closer margin, earning just under 44 percent of voters’ consent, or 44,899 of 102, 268 votes.
The meals tax was estimated to generate an annual $8 million in additional funding for the bond payments, and without it, the projects will become more costly for the county and take much longer to complete.
“That seven year window for doing these school projects probably extends out closer to 15 years. We strategically built a plan to revitalize and renovate and keep up all of our school buildings. There’s 64 facilities, and if we do 10-12 at a time, and we start looking at 15 year increments to do them, it’s going to take us 80 to 90 years to get around to all of our schools,” said Tim Bullis, director of community relations for Chesterfield County Public Schools, at a public forum last week.