A bold, needed step by Floyd County Supervisors

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Floyd County Supervisors are proposing to raise real estate taxes by five cents — setting a rate of 55 cents per $100 in assessed property tax values.

For a $200,000 assessed home, that would means about $100 a year more in taxes — $8.33 a month.  The tax hike helps pay for an additional $1.2 million in revenue needed for the coming year and brings the budget to $32,422,746.

My story that details the proposed budget and tax hike appears in today’s Floyd Press.

Facing crisis needs in the county schools, a need for two new fire trucks, an ambulance and two new patrol cars for a sheriff department facing constant increases in crime, the Supervisors took a bold step to raise taxes to a minimum needed level that still leaves county residents paying one of the lowest tax rates in Virginia.

Our taxes, under the new rate, would still be less than one third of what Amy and I paid in 2004 for property taxes in Arlington County for a small condo with an assessed value of our home in Floyd County.

The tax rate and proposed 2016 fiscal year budget, which takes effect on July 1, faces a public hearing on April 21.  Some will argue the tax hike is too big.  Others may argue it is too small.  The county is giving the school a half-million more than in the current budget but that is also about a half million less than what the school board wanted.

Under Virginia law, once the county has set a proposed tax rate, it cannot raise taxes any more than that amount.  They can reduce the rate, if wished.

But, as someone who has covered county government for 10 years now, I think the board has taken an important step, one that even brought a “yes” vote from Indian Valley supervisor Fred Gerald, the one member of the board who has never before voted for a tax increase.

Gerald points out that this is “not the final vote or budget” but it was a symbolic vote, even if he votes “no” on the final budget and tax rate.

From the objectivity as a reporter, the vote, the budget and the tax hike was a necessary action in tough times for the county.

As a resident who helps pay those taxes, I welcome the new budget and congratulate the board for taking the step.  Board chairman Case Clinger and vice chairman Lauren Yoder worked long and hard with department heads, the school board and, with help from county administrator Dan Campbell and assistant Terri Morris to try and meet the county’s needs.

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