Hanover County has a County Administrator and a seven-member Board of Supervisors.
Hanover is the county seat. Ashland is the only incorporated town within the County.
County Fiscal Policy
Hanover’s revenues are strong with the county having the 13th lowest level of fiscal stress and the 13th highest median adjusted gross income in Virginia. The county has experienced constant growth in both its residential and commercial/industrial tax base. Total real property tax base growth averaged more than 12%, totaling more than $3.4 billion in the past three years. This strong growth allows for a stable real property tax rate of $0.81. More than $234 million in new commercial construction over the past three years continues this positive trend.
A growing retail presence has provided generally increasing sales tax revenue; and the growing retail presence has helped to limit the decline in projected fiscal year 2009 and projected fiscal year 2010 sales tax revenue to 11.6% and 4.1%, respectively. In fact, as of July 2010, the County has had positive year over prior year sales tax growth in each of the last three months, illustrating a positive trend in the local economy.
Conservative fiscal management has enabled the county to maintain a balanced five-year budget plan that meets the anticipated service needs without a general tax rate increase. This includes the continued funding of the $95 million bond referendum approved in November 2005, maintenance of service levels in public safety, and maintenance of low student to teacher ratios. The bond referendum had overwhelming public support, with all three questions endorsed by more than 70% of Hanover County voters. Each question passed in every one of the county’s 34 precincts. The fiscal year 2010 budget included the final appropriation of the 2005 referendum projects, which included public safety, parks and recreation and school improvement projects
Bond Rating and Debt Burden
Hanover County has earned AAA bond ratings from all three ratings agencies: Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch Ratings.
Hanover is one of only 45 counties nationwide to have earned this prestigious designation, and is the smallest county by population to have done so.
The following comments were received from the rating agencies:
- Standard and Poor’s upgraded the County bond rating to AAA in January 2009 based on “the County’s historically strong financial position, aided by excellent and well-adhered to fiscal policies.” Continued economic development in a resilient economy further supports the upgrade. Other rating factors included “access to, and participation in, the broad and diverse Richmond, Va. metropolitan employment base” and “healthy property tax base growth due to continued economic development.”
- Fitch Ratings affirmed the County’s bond rating of AAA in 2016, stating that “Strong revenue growth prospects reflect the county’s ability to capture tax base increases attributable to likely economic development as well as the appreciation of existing properties. The county has managed its expenditure and long-term liability profiles well, as evidenced by moderate carrying costs and a low debt burden. Fitch expects that these factors, coupled with conservative financial management, would enable the county to maintain financial stability and solid reserves in a potential economic downturn.”
- Moody’s Investors Services affirmed the County’s bond rating of AAA in 2015, noting that “The stable outlook reflects our expectation that the county will continue to maintain a healthy financial position due to already sound reserve levels…as well as a history of conservative budgeting and management.”
Awards and Recognition
Hanover County has received the following awards and recognition for its budget and financial reporting:
- The Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for its Comprehensive Annual Financial Report each year since 1985.
- The GFOA Award for Distinguished Budget Presentation each year since 1990.