New Kent Issues and Answers
updated October 11, 2012

Why Does New Kent County apply for and accept State and Federal Grants?

There are two types of counties, Donor Counties and Donee Counties.  A donor county is one whose citizens pay more in state and federal taxes than they receive back in benefits.  A donee county is one receives more in benefits than their citizens pay less in federal and state taxes. 

Taxes to the state and federal governments are paid by citizens of all counties.  Accepting or rejecting grants does not affect the amount of taxes paid.  If we don't accept the grant, the money will go to another county, not back to the taxpayers.  County taxpayers, however, will have to pay more for services if the county does not accept grants, placing a higher burden on our taxpayers. 

New Kent County accepts state and federal grants.  To do otherwise would be shortchanging our taxpayers.

The Tax Rate went up.  Why did my Real Estate Tax go down?

The real estate tax that you pay is calculated by multiplying the tax rate times the tax assessment.  Neither number can be considered alone.

The new tax assessment that came out at the beginning of 2012 showed a substantial drop in real estate values in New Kent County.  The increase in tax rate for 2012 helped to make up for the reduction of county funds that would have resulted if the tax rate were not raised. 

Compare the tax bill you received in October 2012 with the amount you were billed in 2011 to see if your taxes increased or decreased.  If you built a garage, house or other improvement, that would increase the land value, and the total taxes. 

To calculate your percentage of increase or decrease, determine the difference between your 2011 and 2012 tax bill and divide that number by the amount billed in 2011. 

Options for 1930 New Kent School

PPEA Improvements

The renovation planned using the PPEA process will be needed for any use of the space. It concentrates on sealing the envelope, heating, air conditioning, electricity, plumbing, roof repairs, etc. This is a set cost regardless of use.

Use by Heritage Library

If the 16,000 sq ft historic building is used by the Heritage Public Library, the library will raise several hundred thousand dollars to complete the renovation and for furniture and fixtures. As tenant, the library will pay operating expenses including utilities, cleaning, and personnel. Other services including meeting rooms, computer access, a New Kent history research room, and an entertainment venue will be provided at no cost to the County.

Heritage Public Library at the 1930 school will be the anchor business in the Courthouse area. It will be similar to department stores or grocery stores that serve as the anchor businesses is most shopping centers, attracting customers and essential to the success of the surrounding businesses. Without the library, the development of the courthouse area will suffer. Historically when the anchor business in a shopping center closes the other businesses in the shopping center fail.

Use by County

The County would use the 1930 school for County departments and offices. The County and the taxpayers would still have to pay for the renovation and the several hundred thousand dollars to to complete the renovation, which the Library would otherwise pay for.  The County would also have to pay utilities, cleaning, maintenance, and personnel. This will dedicate more space for County use than the County needs, and will ultimately result in an unnecessary expansion of County government, costing the taxpayers even more. (Government expands to fill the space available.)

New Building for Heritage Library.

If the historic 1930 school is not used by the library, Heritage Public Library will have to acquire or build a new building. County and Taxpayer support will be required to pay for the new building. This has happened in Charles City County where a new building is planned. The new library will also direct its customers away from the Courthouse area to the detriment of other business in the district.

What is going on with the old Middle School?

In January 2011 the Board of Supervisors started the process of advertising a Public Private (PPEA) request for bids to upgrade the main floor of the 1930 building and the front portion of the East building (Elementary School) 

The leases for the current Heritage Public Library and the School Offices expire in the next year.  New Kent Taxpayers are paying $45,000 a year for the school offices and $20,000 a year for part of the library rent. Moving to the old school will eliminate the rent.  

Much of the space in the old school is still available and not being upgraded at this time. 

Why is the work being done now particularly with the bad economy?

Because of the recession, construction costs are lower than they have been for many years, and lower than they will be when the recession is over.  This means that the work will be done for 10% to 30% less than in normal times, a significant savings for New Kent taxpayers.  

What will the old Middle School be used for?

Heritage Public Library will use the main floor of the 1930 building.  The two classrooms built in the auditorium have been removed, restoring the atrium.  This will eliminate the rent being paid for their current location.

Parks and Recreation and The Virginia Tech Extension Office have moved into the small building west of the 1930 building (computer building)  eliminating the rent being paid for the Extension Offices on Olivet Church Road. 

The School Administration will use the the building closest to the Courthouse.  That will eliminate the rent they are paying for the Vaiden House.  

The New Kent Technical Center will be in part of the school.  This will serve New Kent students and students from nearby counties.  

Why Should New Kent Citizens care about High Speed Rail?

High Speed Rail connecting Richmond with the Northeast High Speed Corridor, south to Raleigh, North Carolina, will help Richmond to develop its tourism and convention business.  An increase in Richmond visitors will also bring more visitors to New Kent's Principal businesses, Colonial Downs, 2 Wineries, 4 Golf Courses, and more.

What About Rail in New Kent County?

The current plan, written and supported by New Kent County is for true High Speed Rail to connect Richmond and Norfolk/Virginia Beach along Rt. 460, South of the James River.  The plan also calls for improved passenger rail along the CSX track, along Rt. 60 through New Kent.  The City of Newport News is working to build a new station and to increase the number of trains from Richmond.  New Kent will have the opportunity to reestablish the Providence Forge Passenger Station, and to provide service to the Northeast High Speed Corridor.    

Why is the County getting so many new Cell Towers?

Cell phones has changed rapidly over the past few years with new phones having internet access and 3G and 4G technology.  The new uses require the cell companies to provide more and more bandwidth.  The day of the cell phone that only makes phone calls is over.  The new phones are "pocket computers" with thousands of ap's, internet access, email, navigation, and more capabilities coming every day.

New cell phone capabilities and increased use require more towers.  

What is the renovated space and the second floor of the New Courthouse being used for?

Since the construction of the New Courthouse, various clerk's offices have been located in the 1909 Courthouse, requiring the clerks to use shopping carts to take files back and forth to court.  Their offices have been moved to the New Courthouse where they belong.

The upstairs of the New Courthouse now includes a Juvenile and Domestic Courtroom and Judges Chambers, which have been needed for several years.  

In addition, the Commonwealth Attorney has moved from the office on the north side of Rt. 249 to the new courthouse.  This eliminated the rent being paid for old office.  

Which is safest a Roundabout, Turn Lanes or a Stop Light? 

Here's a link to the Virginia Department of Transportation website with information on roundabouts.  Take a look. http://www.virginiadot.org/info/faq-roundabouts.asp 

Who is paying for the Road Improvements on Rt. 106?

All of the road improvements on Rt. 106 between Interstate 64 and the entrance to Vineyards are being paid for by the developer, New Kent Vineyards.  None of the cost is coming from New Kent Taxes.

What will the 1909 Courthouse be used for?

Meeting rooms and conference are in short supply in New Kent.  The 1909 Courthouse  includes 3 conference rooms including the courtroom which has been used for meetings for years.  The conference rooms will also include New Kent County History and information.  

The Voter Registration office has moved from the 2 small rooms on the Western side of the 1909 courthouse to a larger area at the East side of the building.  

What is the American Recovery Act doing for New Kent County?

We received a grant of up to 6.75 million dollars to construct a reuse water line from the County's Sewage Treatment Plant on Rt. 33 to the golf courses and track at Rt. 155 and Interstate 64.  The construction bids came in at under $4 million, and will be entirely paid by Federal funds. This will allow most or all of the water produced by the treatment plant to be used for irrigation instead of being discharged in the Pamunkey River.  This is a Green Project.  Good for New Kent and good for the environment. 

What is New Kent County doing for the Environment?

New Kent County is a recognized leader in protecting the environment. During the past few years we have received awards from the Virginia Association of Counties and the National Association of Counties for our Low Impact Development ordinances. We were honored to receive the Guardian of the River Award from the Friends of the James River for having ordinances that provided the greatest protection of the James River of the more than 40 jurisdictions in the James River Basin. New Kent is also a participant in the "Cool Counties" initiative of the National Association of Counties which supports fuel efficiency, environmentally sound land use ordinances, water conservation, and efforts to slow global warming.

The new Social Service Building is one of the most energy efficient buildings in the County, saving fuel and money.  Although not designated as a Leed building, the new building meets the Leed Green Building requirements.

The High School has geo-thermal heating and cooling. 

Some County lighting and new restroom facilities at Wahrani Trail on Rt. 33 will be solar powered.

The Bus Garage has an advanced heating system that will burn used motor oil instead of fuel oil.  The fuel is free and the emissions are less than a traditional fuel oil burner.  

New Kent County is the only jurisdiction in the state to prohibit landfills, preventing leakage and other environmental damage that has caused other counties to spend millions or close or improve their sites.

A Virginia Department of Transportation project, the Westbound Rest Area is one of the most environmentally friendly buildings in the state.  Storm water runoff and low water use high tech.  The Rest Area is the first in Virginia to have stations for plugging in and recharging electric powered vehicles.

The proposed renovations to the County Administration Building will pay for itself in only a few years because of savings of energy costs.

Who is paying for the new Social Service Building?

The building houses the Health Department, Social Services Department, Quinn Rivers, and Bay Transit.  Each of these agencies pays rent to the County that will be used to pay the construction loan. There is additional space in the building for County use.

Who paid to build the new Visitors and Commerce Center in Talleysville?

The land and building are a donation from New Kent Vineyards (Farms of New Kent) as a part of a proffer. The building serves as offices for the New Kent Economic Development Department and for the New Kent Chamber of Commerce. The main lobby promotes New Kent history, tourism and businesses. The conference room, designed for business meetings is being decorated by the Tourism Department of Kent England, giving an international flavor to the building.  Additional proffer funds and land have been provided for the construction of a fire station.  

Who Paid for the new sewer and water system in the County?

Commercial and residential developments, not taxes are paying for the system. During the past few years New Kent has initiated a program of constructing a sewer line to connect each of the Countyís four interstate interchanges with the existing sewage treatment plants at Colonial Downs and on Rt. 33. The New Kent Utilities are an Enterprise Fund, separate from County taxes and paid for by new hook ups, utility fees and new developments including Patriotís Landing, New Kent Vineyards.

Who Paid to hook up sewer to the Watkins Elementary School?

New Kent Vineyards is constructing the sewer line as part of a proffer, at no cost to New Kent County.

Why did we do so much school construction?

Since the construction of the current High School in the 1980ís only a few school improvements have been made. At the same time the number of students in the county has grown. All four of New Kentís schools had temporary classroom trailers, and the middle school, built in 1930, had problems with water in the basement class rooms, proper security and accessibility by handicap students. The 2000-2003 Board of Supervisors  initiated improvements at Watkins Elementary School and New Kent Primary School. The 2004-2007 Board took the next step of building a new high school and moving middle school students from the 1930 building to the current high school.

But wasnít a referendum to build a high school defeated twice?

Referenda are used to authorize borrowing for non-essential uses or to provide for early construction of essential buildings that may not be needed until some time in the future.

Previously it was determined that a new high school would be needed in the future but that it would only be built ahead of time if a referendum were approved. In 2005 the Board determined that construction could not be delayed and that the new high school would be necessary to provide for the education of New Kent students. The question was never IF a new school would be built, but WHEN it would be built.

Why did the new High School cost so much?

When the school bond was defeated by referendum in 2002, construction costs were at a low, and the projected cost of the school was $25 million.  The new High School is slightly larger and cost twice as much as it would have in 2002.  This is due to a substantial increase in construction costs, partially caused by the Hurricane Katrina repairs on the Gulf Cost.  The current $50 million cost is comparable to high schools being built today and less than for those planned for the future by other counties.  

Would a landfill help or hurt New Kent County?

Landfills are a tempting way for a county to make money if it has no other options. But they come with a price. A landfill brings health, odor and environmental hazards, and makes attracting development more difficult.

An article in the Richmond Times Dispatch (August 26, 2007) indicated that Hanover and Caroline Counties have closed their landfills due to leaks or the cost of complying with environmental regulations. The landfill in Western Henrico, often cited as a good example of landfill with nearby development, will be closing in the next few years.

To find out about the problems of nearby landfills in Charles City and King and Queen, pick up your local paper or step outside and smell the air.

But, shouldnít each county be responsible for disposing of its own trash?

The high cost of constructing a landfill makes a local landfill impossible. The only practical solution is a regional landfill serving a large area.

Today Pennsylvania and Virginia lead the nation in the importing of trash from other states. The two states are selling their future for ready cash. The northeast states ship their trash to Virginia because Virginia counties are willing to take the health and environmental risks for less money than it would cost to build landfills in their own states.  A proponent of a landfill in New Kent stated at a meeting that the northeast states wanted to send their garbage to Virginia because they didn't want a landfill in their own back yard. 

Is New Kent County using "Smart Growth" to control development?

By providing sewer at each of the Countyís four interstate interchanges, New Kent has channeled growth to those areas, protecting the environmentally sensitive land along the Chickahominy and Pamunkey Rivers. New Kent County is getting growth pressure from both east and west. By concentrating the new growth near the interchanges and in villages, and limiting the expansion of our water and sewer system, New Kent is avoiding the sprawl that is seen in many counties near metropolitan areas.

The Maidstone Village development and the Rose and Crown Restaurant at New Kent Courthouse have achieved a wide reputation as one of the best "Smart Growth" communities.

By adopting Low Impact Development ordinances and using Purchase of Development Rights and other innovative measures, New Kent is controlling the growth while protecting the rural nature of the County.

Iíve heard that residential developments never pay for themselves. Wonít New Kent Vineyards and Rock Creek Villas cost New Kent Taxpayers?

Age restricted residential developments are the exception to the rule. They bring in more tax dollars than they cost.  

New Kent Vineyards will have 60% of its housing age restricted. Rock Creek Villas on Rt. 60 is 100% age restricted,.

Education is the highest cost of any County. Without any residents under the age of 18, these Age Restricted developments are an asset to the County.

In addition, New Kent Vineyards will bring 1,000,000 square feet of commercial space. The winery, village, golf course, polo field, inn and restaurants will be great assets to New Kent County. Rock Creek Villas will also bring 2 new restaurants to the County.  Both developments will provide their own recreation facilities and club houses. 

How do new developments compare with previous approved developments in the increase of students?  

A projection was distributed  at New Kent University showed estimates of the number of new students as different developments grew through 2012.  Kentland (south of Colonial Downs) had the largest number of 132 per year.  Patriot's Landing had the second highest at 64 students per year, and New Kent Vineyards (Farms of New Kent) had the lowest projection of 42 students per year. 

The remaining Kentland development and Vineyards development are of comparable size, but Kentland has more than 3 times the projected new students than Vineyards.  There are 2 reasons for the difference.  First: Vineyards is 60% age restricted, with few students, and second: there is a limit on how many of the non-age restricted houses in Bay 4 can be built each year.

Kentland has no age restrictions.

Patriot's Landing, less than 1/3 the size of Vineyards has no restrictions and projects 64 new students a year compared with 42 for Vineyards.

Rock Creek Villas is not listed because it is 100% age restricted and no students are projected.

Wonít the new age restricted homes cause an increase in ambulance calls?

There will be an increase in calls. However, New Kent County charges for ambulance calls. In most cases the insurance companies and Medicare will pay the cost.  For many reasons including financial, the age restricted homes will be an asset to the County.

What are we doing for Economic Development and Tourism?

Because of its location and Interstate 64, New Kent is in a prime position to attract business. Construction at Bottoms Bridge and New Kent Vineyards will bring thousands of square feet of restaurants, banks, medical offices, fitness centers, and other facilities that will benefit the citizens of the County while attracting business from travelers on Interstate 64.

New Kent County is developing as a venue for sports, entertainment and tourism. Colonial Downs, and the Countyís outstanding golf courses and campgrounds attract thousands of paying visitors each year. During the next few months the Winery at New Kent Vineyards will open adding to the Countyís attractions.

On March 16, 2009 the New Kent Board of Supervisors acted to encourage business development  by waiving environmental, planning and zoning fees for commercial projects, as well as building permit and inspection fees.   In addition the Business, Professional, and Occupational License (BPOL) tax was reduced by 15%.  A Business liaison program was initiated and storm water runoff requirements were reduced for businesses.  The program has been so successful that the Board has extended the fee waivers to June 30, 2011.

What are we doing to Promote Tourism?

New Kentís rich history is attracting tourist dollars. Historic driving tours follow the routes taken by Captain John Smith after his capture in 1607, the French and American wagon train, and George Washington and General Rochambeau in their route to Yorktown in 1781 and the armies return march in 1782. In 1862 JEB Stuart led his cavalry through New Kent in his famed ride around the Union Army, and in 1968 the Green v. New Kent School Board civil rights case defined school desegregation for the nation. Along with New Kent born first ladies Martha Dandridge Washington and Letitia Christian Tyler and Revolutionary War hero James Lafayette, New Kentís history has a lot to offer todayís tourists.

What about Bicycle Routes?

The new bicycle routes in New Kent County attract tourism to the County.  Forget the image of a 12 year old on a hand-me-down bicycle.  Bicycle enthusiasts pay hundreds of dollars for their high tech bikes.  They usually drive to the start of the ride, and then tour New Kent County, bring customers to New Kent businesses. 

How much is Promoting Tourism going to cost us?

Weíve talked about the Visitors and Commerce Center being paid for by New Kent Vineyards.

A study of the Washington Rochambeau Route in New Kent and Virginia was largely paid for by a grant from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. A Study of the Chickahominy River and John Smith route through New Kent, Charles City and James City is supported by a grant from the National Park Service. A Chickahominy recreational access study has been done by the Richmond Regional Planning District Commission.

In cooperation with Charles City, we published 11 by 17 inch maps with New Kent on one side and Charles City on the other. Since the development of the map was done internally by New Kent, Charles City and the Richmond Regional Planning District Commission, the only cost was printing, about 8 cents each.  The map is in its second edition.

A small increase in tourism will bring significant returns to New Kent.

Who paid for the Quinton Community Center and the new parks?

The Quinton Community Center was a donation from the New Kent Ruritan Club. Quinton Park was donated by the developer of the Quinton Park Community as a proffer, and the Rotary Club of New Kent donated the tables and benches for Quinton Park.

New Kent Vineyards has donated 100 acres for a park on Criss Cross Road and will develop another public park on Pine Fork Road.

One Quarter of the Countyís Meals Tax is designated to go to parks and recreation and will help to develop the parks.

Who pays for the Sheriff's Department?

The State Compensation Board contributes about $800,000 to pay the Sheriff and some Deputies. Additional funds come from grants, 911 taxes, and other fees.  The County pays the rest.   

Who is paying for the paving of Stage Road east of Rt. 33?

VDOT used state funds for the construction of Stage Road, with additional funds coming from Dragonsridge Motorsports.  No New Kent tax dollars were spent on the project.

What happened to Dragonsridge?

The Dragonsridge Motorsports Park was approved as a Planned Unit Development in 2004.  The improvements to Stage Road are a part of the project, and have been completed.  As of this writing, no improvements have been made to the Dragonsridge property.  A Planned Unit Development has no expiration date.  

Does New Kent County pay for any road improvements?

Most road improvements and repairs are the responsibility of the Commonwealth of Virginia through the Virginia Department of Transportation.  But, as you read in the paper, the State is experiencing a revenue shortfall and money is tight.  

Under a revenue sharing program for rural rustic roads, New Kent County can use County tax dollars as matching funds for some road projects.  Part of Mt. Pleasant Road (Rt 628) north of Rt. 60 was paved under the program. 

What's the Story on the old VDOT facility at Rt. 155 and Poindexter Road

When VDOT moved to new facilities on Rt. 106, the former site was given to the County by the State without cost.  New Kent is using the main building as offices for the New Kent Utility Department.

Why are we hiring so many firefighters?

In the past, New Kent's 3 Fire Volunteer Departments and the Providence Forge Volunteer Rescue Squad were all volunteer.  As the population shifted from farmers to commuters, volunteers were not available during the day and the first paid fire/EMS were hired to fill the daytime slots.  

But the number of New Kent Citizens with time to volunteer is steadily dropping.  Without volunteers, the only way adequate fire and rescue service can be provided is by adding paid personnel.  

You can help to solve this problem by volunteering.  The home page of www.newkent.net has the contact information for each agency.

Tell me about New Kentís Relationship with Kent, England.

A few years ago a friendship began to develop between Kent County England and its namesake New Kent County, Virginia. In 2005 the musical Jesus Christ Superstar was performed with a joint Kent and New Kent High School cast, in 2007 West Side Story was produced, also with a joint cast, and in 2009 the musical Sweeny Todd was presented at New Kent High School, The Kimball Theater in Williamsburg and at the Astor School of the Arts in Dover, England. Cabaret was produced in October 2011. The plays bring professionalism and an international flavor to New Kent High School, providing a unique experience for New Kent students.  

Exchanges of teachers, golfers and tourists have made the Atlantic pond smaller and brought the two counties closer together. An English inspired village is being constructed near New Kent Courthouse, and the Kent England Conference room is a part of the Information center at Talleysville.

Take a look at the Maidstone Village development and the Rose and Crown Restaurant at New Kent Courthouse. 

What about Real Estate tax rates?

Our rates before the 2007 assessment seemed high because we hadnít done a real estate assessment in 4 years. The only way to compare the tax rates for various counties is to base them on the current real estate values. A county that hasnít had a recent reassessment will have a higher tax rate because its based on older real estate assessments.

Assessments are now scheduled for every 2 years, and are being done in house through the Commissioner of Revenue's Office.  The provides more accurate information and makes the assessment office more responsible to the citizens.  

The latest assessment was done in 2009.  The next one is scheduled for the end of 2011. 

Doesnít a higher assessment mean that we pay more in taxes?

A higher assessment does not raise taxes. By law, whenever the total County tax assessments rise, the tax rate must be lowered so that the total amount of taxes collected by the County remains the same.   

What is Happening with Walker's Dam at Rockahock?

The Chickahominy River dam broke on April 21, 2007.  Newport News Waterworks, the owner of the dam, made temporary repairs to the dam in 2008 and is beginning the second phase which will install an improved boat lock and fish ladder.  This repair phase began in early 2010 and should be finished within 18 to 24 months.  All of the cost will be paid by Newport News.  There is no cost to New Kent County.  For more information or questions contact Newport News Waterworks at 757-926-1155. Walker's Dam Update

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