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“Yes 4 Henrico’s Kids” PAC to support passage of Henrico meals tax

9/17/2013, 4:41 p.m.

— Henrico County has formed “Yes 4 Henrico’s Kids” PAC to advocate for passage of the meals tax on the ballot on Nov. 5. The small surcharge on restaurant meals, according to supporters who recently gathered at an press event, will help fund the county's schools.

"To maintain the excellence we all expect from our schools and the success for our children that they deserve, a meals tax is a small price to pay," said Virgil Hazelette, a former longtime Henrico County manager behind the PAC. "I am one voice in a coalition of community and business leaders, elected officials, parents and teachers. that has gathered in support of the referendum. We are citizens, we are neighbors, we are parents, we are business owners. And we all feel that a few pennies on a meal is a small price to pay to protect our children's education and their future.”

Henrico business leaders, Ed Blair, president of the Henrico Business Council of the Richmond Chamber and Mark Romer, president of the Eastern Henrico Business Council also spoke at the event.

“Good schools are critical to the success of any business," said Blair."We need a skilled workforce to fill jobs and to be the leaders of tomorrow. Outstanding schools are the key to this and we want to keep the excellent schools we have come to expect in Henrico.”

Romer spoke of property values and property taxes in the County. “Henrico County is known for low property taxes and a high level of services for citizens. Both will be at risk here in Henrico if the meals tax does not pass. As a matter of fact, our property taxes will go up if the meals tax does not pass. That will be a much bigger burden on Henrico homeowners and even renters as the increase is passed on.”

The president of the Richmond Association of REALTORS, Linda Terry talked about the effect of public schools on families’ choices.

“Families choose to purchase a home where they know there are jobs, recreational facilities and good schools for their children," she said. "An excellent public schools system is essential if we want families to continue to choose Henrico, to purchase homes here and to raise their families here. The “yes” vote in November for the meals tax referendum is a critical investment in the future of Henrico County; it’s an investment in maintaining a strong community with strong property values.”

Those against the meal tax say there is no way to guarantee that money collected will always go towards education and that the real beneficiaries aren’t teachers and children, but rather the government programs and policies that county officials are protecting from cuts or alteration in lieu of raising taxes.