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Henrico County proposes $54.8 million in pay increases for employees beginning this spring

The announced raises for government, HCPS workers would range from 4.4% to more than 14% depending on a number of factors.

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Henrico County has detailed a proposal that would provide sweeping salary adjustments for employees of the county’s general government and Henrico County Public Schools, beginning this spring and continuing into fiscal year 2021-22.

If approved by the Board of Supervisors, the plan would represent the most substantial effort to ensure the pay of Henrico’s public workforce remains competitive and that long-tenured employees are recognized for their service and experience.

The plan would apply a series of pay increases to different employee groups over the coming months, resulting in pay increases ranging from 4.4% to more than 14% in some instances. Teachers, for example, would receive raises totaling 6.9%. These increases along with ones for police officers and firefighters would make Henrico the region’s pay leader for these critical positions. The county has nearly 11,800 employees between its general government and school system (HCPS).

County Manager John A. Vithoulkas, who outlined the plan at tonight’s meeting of the Board of Supervisors, said the reinvestment in employees is possible due to the county’s conservative fiscal management, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Before the Board of Supervisors adopted the county’s budget for fiscal 2020-21 last spring, officials eliminated about $99 million in proposed expenses, including a 3% pay increase for general government and HCPS employees.

The ​plan salary adjustments will be formally considered this spring as part of a budget for fiscal 2021-22 and would cost a combined $54 million in the current and next fiscal years. The adjustments, which will not require a tax rate increase, stem from Henrico’s review of employee compensation that started in 2018. In addition, officials are beginning to increase the county’s minimum wage, with a rate of $15 per hour expected within two years.

“These raises for our hardworking county and HCPS employees are much needed and well deserved,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Daniel J. Schmitt, of the Brookland District. “As a county, we are able to consider a plan of this magnitude only because of Henrico’s many years of conservative fiscal management. The unknowns we faced as we entered the pandemic last year forced us to make extremely difficult decisions about our budget. Because of the aggressive cuts we made then, we are able to take bold action now.”

Other board members agreed.

“The pandemic has proven that great employees really are invaluable,” said Vice Chairman Patricia S. O’Bannon, of the Tuckahoe District. “Henrico must take these steps to ensure that our salaries remain competitive so we can continue to attract and retain the most experienced, well-trained and efficient workforce.”

“COVID-19 has tested our employees in ways that we could not have imagined,” Fairfield District Supervisor Frank J. Thornton said. “As a county, we must recognize their continued commitment, hard work and ingenuity. These pay adjustments show that Henrico has heart and cares deeply about those who serve our residents, businesses and community every day.”

“I appreciate the dedication and patience our first responders, teachers and other county and HCPS employees have shown throughout the pandemic,” Three Chopt District Supervisor Thomas M. Branin said. “Last spring, we asked them to do more and to work longer, even as we tabled a proposed pay increase. It is a blessing that we can now provide these well-earned raises. This plan will allow Henrico to remain the pay leader for the region.”

“Employees are the heart and soul of Henrico County’s government and its school system,” Varina District Supervisor Tyrone E. Nelson said. “They are on the front lines as teachers, police officers and firefighters. They care for our roads, pick up our trash and work in countless other ways that reflect in Henrico’s stellar reputation and great quality of life. I am pleased to be able to support a plan that acknowledges the dedication and hard work of those who directly serve our community.”

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Trevor Dickerson is the co-founder and editor of RVAhub.com, lover of all things Richmond, and a master of karate and friendship for everyone.

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Government

VDH announces new QR codes to verify COVID-19 vaccination status

A person vaccinated in Virginia can visit vaccinate.virginia.gov to obtain their free vaccination record with QR code, which can then be saved to a phone gallery, printed on paper, or stored in a compatible account.

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The Virginia Department of Health today announced the addition of QR codes – a type of barcode that can be scanned with smartphones – to Virginia COVID-19 vaccination records.

QR codes – short for “quick response” – are commonly used in retail, logistics, and other sectors. The technology allows anyone to show proof of vaccination with a digital or printed QR code instead of a paper card, and without the need for an app. As more and more employers and businesses respond to calls by President Biden and Governor Northam to require that employees and customers be vaccinated, QR codes will help improve the consistency and security of vaccination information while protecting individual privacy.

A person vaccinated in Virginia can visit vaccinate.virginia.gov to obtain their free vaccination record with QR code, which can then be saved to a phone gallery, printed on paper, or stored in a compatible account.

QR codes contain the same information as paper records, but in a format that offers greater security and efficiency. Because the QR code is digitally signed by the Virginia Department of Health, it cannot be altered or forged. Information from QR codes is only available if and when the individual chooses to share it. Businesses and employers that choose to verify an individual’s vaccination status can scan QR codes with the free SMART Health Verifier App. Individuals do not need to download an app to use QR codes.

Virginia is now the fifth U.S. state to adopt the SMART Health format for QR codes, empowering individuals with trustworthy and verifiable copies of their vaccination records in digital or paper form using open, interoperable standards. The framework and standards were developed by VCI, a coalition of more than 800 public and private organizations – including The Mayo Clinic, Boston Children’s Hospital, Microsoft, MITRE, and The Commons Project Foundation.

QR codes are available to anyone whose vaccination record includes a working phone number and is in the Virginia Immunization Information System (VIIS). Nearly all doses administered in Virginia are reported to VIIS, including pharmacies, physician offices, health department clinics, federally qualified health centers, and community vaccination centers. Some doses administered outside Virginia to Virginia residents may be in VIIS. Doses administered directly by federal agencies such as the Department of Defense or Department of Veterans Affairs are not reported to VIIS. A person whose record cannot be retrieved automatically may call 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682, TTY users call 7-1-1) for assistance.

With more than 10.2 million doses of vaccine administered so far in Virginia, more than 58% of the population is fully vaccinated. Everyone 12 or older is eligible to be vaccinated now. To find free vaccines nearby, visit vaccinate.virginia.gov or call 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682, TTY users call 7-1-1). Assistance is available in English, Spanish, and more than 100 other languages.

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Government

Va. Supreme Court clears way for removal of Lee monument in Richmond

In two opinions issued Thursday, the Court denied challenges by a small group of neighbors and an heir to the family that initially granted the land for the monument.

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By Ned Oliver

The Supreme Court of Virginia cleared the way Thursday for Gov. Ralph Northam to remove the Lee Monument in Richmond, one of the largest Confederate memorials in the state.

In two opinions issued Thursday, the Court denied challenges by a small group of neighbors and an heir to the family that initially granted the land for the monument.

Northam announced he planned to take down the state-owned memorial in June 2020.

This is a breaking news update and will be updated as the situation develops.

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Community

Community Vaccination Hubs to Open in September

“These small hubs allow for folks to learn about events through word of mouth…communities know where we will be.” – Joanna Cirillo, Public Health Nurse Supervisor at RHHD

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From the Richmond Health District:

Starting in September, Richmond and Henrico Health Districts (RHHD) will open four COVID-19 vaccination hubs that will each operate weekly in the coming months. These four small hubs will supplement RHHD’s ongoing pop up events in partnership with large employers, faith communities, community organizations, and more.

The opening of the four hubs follows the closing of RHHD’s last mass vaccination site at George Wythe High School earlier this month. Hubs are located in Richmond’s downtown and southside and in eastern and western Henrico to provide access to multiple communities.

“What we learned throughout our vaccination efforts so far is that a combination of clinics at stable locations and pop up events with community outreach is helpful in creating vaccine access,” explains Joanna Cirillo, Public Health Nurse Supervisor at RHHD. “These small hubs allow for folks to learn about events through word of mouth…communities know where we will be.”

The clinic locations and times are as follows:

  • Tuesdays, 3:00 pm-6:00 pm (first clinic on September 7th): Second Baptist Church (3300 Broad Rock Blvd)
  • Wednesdays, 1:00 pm-4:00 pm: Henrico Recreation Center (1440 N Laburnum Ave)
  • Thursdays, 1:00 pm-4:00 pm: RHHD Downtown Location (400 E Cary St)
  • Fridays, 9:00 am-12:00 pm: RHHD Henrico West Location (8600 Dixon Powers Dr)

To learn more about all available COVID-19 vaccination opportunities, visit vax.rchd.com.

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