“A Truly Fantastic Space”: The New Fairfield Library from the Employee Perspective

“It’s just so beautiful.” Those were the words shared by numerous visitors who toured Henrico’s new Fairfield Area Library when doors opened to the public for the first time on Sunday, October 6. The library welcomed 2,500 people at the Grand Opening and, by day’s end, patrons had checked out over 1000 books. Each Henrico library focuses on a specific theme, with Fairfield’s theme centering around the convergence of black political thought, dually led by Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Du Bois. With intentionality embedded in the aesthetic and visual representation of the library, County Manager John Vithoulkas described it as a “facility that goes so far beyond a library at the minimum level.”]

For quite some time, Henrico’s community has waited in anticipation for the library’s new building to open its doors, and not just because it’s something new. As Patty Conway, Henrico Library’s Community Relations Coordinator, shared: “Before the building opened, there were years of planning, during which time the community could give input and feedback into the building’s features and design. This added to the feeling of possibility and anticipation for all of us, I think—that the building is such a reflection of the community, a monument to the community’s need and values.” However, it’s not just the citizens who have been monumentally excited for this new addition to Henrico’s East End. We asked a couple of our own Fairfield Library employees about their experience with opening the new library.

“I’m sure it’s everything you would think it could be,” said Fairfield Library Manager Mike Hatchett. “Of course, it’s very exciting for everybody involved and it’s exhausting, packing, moving, unpacking, looking for things you know you’ve packed, but can’t find.  Then you look up from all the work and find yourself in a truly fantastic space.” The new Fairfield Area Library is a noteworthy upgrade, with over double the square footage of the previous building, a modern design of rooms for study or meetings, and designated areas for children, teens, and adults. The library also has a digital media lab, a recording room, a beautiful fireplace, and even an outdoor space for activities. When asked about his favorite thing about the library so far, Hatchett explained, “My favorite thing is seeing long-time Fairfield patrons come up to the staff and just hug them with joy.  ‘We did it,’ they say, ‘we finally did it.’”

Conway says the Trailblazer’s Wall—a monument to significant people who influenced the culture of the county, state and nation—is her favorite thing about the library so far. “The stories it shares are inspiring… At the library’s grand opening, many Trailblazers and descendants of Trailblazers attended the opening ceremony, which was incredibly special. I hope the wall offers recognition to the local and regional heroes it depicts, and that their stories go on to inspire others to do great things.” With features such as these throughout the library, employees discover an interactive environment as they check out a book, study, use the computers, or just sit to read and enjoy the view. As this new facility caters to its patrons through these innovative mediums, Henrico employees focus on what they do best—going above and beyond to deliver the best customer experience for those that they serve.

“For most librarians, it’s a once in a lifetime experience,” said Hatchett.  Fairfield opened its previous library in 1976. Now over 40 years later, Fairfield frequenters are witnessing the start of a legacy that will reflect “the many interests and needs of the community it serves,” said Conway, “and it has the spaces to support those interests and needs as they change and evolve.… It’s a great feeling to be a part of something like that, and we are lucky as librarians in Henrico that we have these kind of facilities that support our work.”

Ribbon cutting on opening day at Fairfield Library

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A Look at the Budget Process


The Henrico County Board of Supervisors recently approved the County’s operating budget for the 2019-2020 fiscal year, but do you know the process involved in getting to that point?  The budget process, overseen by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), takes almost a full year to develop and demonstrates a carefully thought out procedure. The first step in the process, estimating revenues that are expected for the next fiscal year, begins in August and helps develop a budget that is balanced among resources.

The budget moves to the department level in October when OMB develops target budgets for each county department.  This target budget provides funding for all current positions in the County and funding for operating and capital outlay items, which are based on the prior year approved budget.  In November, county departments receive the County Manager’s budget call which contains the budget policy, special budget instructions, various revisions to the budget manual, a budget calendar, and the target allocation. Departments then review and adjust their target allocations based on their expected spending for the upcoming fiscal year.  When expected expenditures exceed the target allocation, departments must submit a request for additional funding.  Each request for additional funding must be prioritized and prepared with detailed justification to support the need for additional funding.

Once budget submissions have been received, they are reviewed by OMB.  As a result of this review, a narrative for each department is created. Once these narratives are created, department requests are presented to the Executive Budget Review Committee. This Committee holds hearings in the last week of January through the first week of February to discuss budget submissions with departments.  The Executive Budget Review Committee consists of the County Manager, Deputy County Managers, Director of Finance, Director of Human Resources, one department director (on a rotating basis), and OMB staff. Representatives from each department are present at the time their budget is reviewed and they make presentations and answer questions relative to their budget requests. OMB finalizes recommendations based on the Executive Review Committee results and a balanced budget is recommended by the County Manager to the Board of Supervisors as the Proposed Budget in early March.

The Legislative Budget Review Committee is comprised of the County’s Board of Supervisors, who represent each of the County’s five magisterial districts. The purpose of the proposed budget is to present to the legislative body and the public a comprehensive picture of proposed operations for the budget year, expressed in both verbal and statistical terms. During the hearings, the Board of Supervisors examines all line items in each of the department’s budgets and all associated operational premises.  This gives departments the opportunity to be face to face with the Board of Supervisors, letting them know their accomplishments in support of County operations and services.

Once the Board of Supervisors has received the County Manager’s proposed budget, a date is set for the public hearing on the Budget (held in April).  The Code of Virginia requires that the County advertise a synopsis of the budget in the newspaper and that one or more public hearings be held before the Board adopts the budget. The Board of Supervisors adopts the Annual Fiscal Plan during April and sets tax levies for the Calendar Year.

Following adoption of the budget by the Board of Supervisors, the Annual Fiscal Plan is compiled, published, and distributed.  The budget adoption process concludes in June each year prior to the start of the new fiscal year when the Board of Supervisors appropriates funding for the Annual Fiscal Plan, as is required by the Code of Virginia.

The entire budget process is a huge collaborative effort that is continually fluid with checks and balances.  Every County employee performs some duty or service that impacts the budget and has investment in the budget process.  There are many opportunities for employees to be involved and learn more during the budget process.  If you are interested, ask your department about their process and how you can be involved.  Employees can also come to the public hearings to get a better overview of the budget for the entire County and all the budget documents are available online for review.  OMB works throughout the budget process to assist departments with their budget needs.  The intensive budget process, the OMB budget procedure and the work of each department are all responsible for giving Henrico County the positive reputation for being fiscally responsible.

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Tax Time = Financial Planning Time

It’s tax time. It’s not everyone’s favorite time of year, but a tax refund is a good time to create and implement some financial strategies:

  • Review your paycheck tax withholding. A large refund may indicate that you have too much withholding while having to pay the government may indicate that you need to adjust your withholding’s.
  • Review and adjust your retirement savings amount. Increasing your retirement savings by 1% can increase your retirement income.

  • Pay down high-interest debt. If you pay off a credit card bill that was charging you an 18% interest rate, it’s like earning 18% on your money. It’s never a bad idea to minimize credit card debt whenever possible.
  • Increase your Lifetime Income Score (LIS) with one easy step.
    • Review your VRS projected monthly income (go the VRS website to access your account)
    • Login in to your Empower 457 Deferred Compensation Plan
      • Take note of your LIS (green circle) 
    • Under “Other Assets”, add an Account
    • Select “Monthly Income During Retirement”, add VRS (as source) and your monthly amount
    • Save
    • Now, look at how your LIS changed. o Send an email to Anne Strine with your name, last 4 digits of your SSN and note that says “I increased my LIS!”. Each week in March, we’ll draw the name of someone who increased their LIS and they’ll be awarded a gift card. Spread the word.

Bonus: If at the end of March, we’ve had more than 500 employees increase their LIS, we’ll draw 10 more name from the pot.

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