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Longtime Tucker teacher helped inspire proposed Henrico pay raises

Posted at 6:41 PM, Feb 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-10 18:44:26-05

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- More than 10,000 Henrico County employees will receive pay raises if the Board of Supervisors approves Henrico County Manager John Vithoulkas' extensive proposal.

Vithoulkas announced on Tuesday night a $54 million plan that would provide at least 4.4 percent pay raises for eligible employees.

“It’s the employees that have risen to the challenge. This is a way of rewarding them,” Vithoulkas told CBS 6 in an interview on Wednesday.

Last year, the county slashed the budget by $100 million and implemented a hiring freeze.

Currently, there are 450 vacancies across the county.

The county stopped purchases and a number of projects in order to increase salaries.

If approved, law enforcement, fire, and public school educators in all positions will earn the highest salaries in the metro area, which includes Richmond, Hanover, and Chesterfield.

“We employ fewer and we ask them to do more and so that’s the premise behind this increase,” Vithoulkas stated.

For example, minimum salaries for a Henrico Police officer would increase from $46,000-per-year to $51,000-per-year.

Certain employees like school custodians will earn $15-per-hour over the next two years under Vithoulkas’ proposal.

Employees with more than 10 years of service with the county will also receive additional compensation.

This would be the first significant pay raise for Henrico employees in nearly a decade.

Vithoulkas, a graduate of Henrico County Public Schools, spoke about his inspirations for pushing to raise salaries of the county’s hardworking employees.

Jane Selden taught Vithoulkas, his brothers, and his wife at J.R. Tucker High School. She has been an educator for 48 years.

Jane Selden.jpg

“She taught all of us and she’s still there. This lady changed many many lives,” Vithoulkas said. “She made an impact so many. That’s what this is about.”

Selden told CBS 6 she has seen many young teachers leave the industry for higher-paying jobs.

“It breaks my heart every year to see three or four or even more go to other jobs just for the money,” she said. “Teachers definitely have been underpaid for a long, long time especially this year with all the stress and new stuff and worrying about our kids and not sleeping at night.”

Under the proposal, a teacher with a bachelor's degree and five years of experience will have their minimum pay increased from $47,000 to more than $50,000.

Selden estimated her pay will increase by at least 9-percent if the plan is approved.

Vithoulkas also mentioned a Henrico Police officer who has spent more than 30 years with the department.

“He could have retired a number of years ago. He’s one of the best officers on the force. What is it that we can do to keep him here?” Vithoulkas said.

His plan has the support of the Henrico Board of Supervisors who will vote on a new budget in April.

Varina District Supervisor Tyrone Nelson said they are prioritizing people over projects. He told CBS 6 he supported the proposal 1000%.

Henrico Sheriff Alisa Gregory also applauded Vithoulkas’ plan.

“We are extremely grateful and appreciative to the County for the time, attention, and effort expended on creating this new pay plan,” Gregory stated.