Floyd County residents, particularly those who own land and pay real estate taxes, can have their say Tuesday night at a public hearing on a $34 million plus annual budget for the fiscal year that begins on July 1 and which includes a five cents per $100 in property valuations increase in taxes.
The hearing at the board of supervisors meeting room at the county administration building on Oxford Street in Floyd begins at 7 p.m. and continues until the speakers run out. If the crowd overflows the relatively small meeting space, it could be moved to the auditorium at Floyd County High School.
As proposed, the county budget requires a 55 cents per $100 tax on assessed property valuations. Half of the higher taxes go for about a half million in increases for the county school budget and the rest goes to help pay for things like two new patrol cars for law enforcement, two new fire trucks, a new ambulance and budget hikes for the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office, the Electoral Board and more.
Supervisors last voted to hike taxes in 2011 with increases in both real estate and personal property assessments. Even so, the county’s tax rates are among the lowest in Virginia.
While the increases give the schools a little over a half million more, officials there feel it is only about half of the minimum needed to offset reductions from previous years and budget talks have deepened, some feel, the often contentious divide between school superintendent Kevin Harris and the supervisors, especially board chairman Case Clinger.
Harris did not attend a recent meeting with the supervisors.
The school system is also getting three new school buses in the proposed budget but the existing fleet is strained by too many high-mileage buses with mounting costs for maintenance.
Floyd County schools also lost more teachers than normal last year as incomes for teachers have fallen lower in state rankings.
Even with the increases from high tax rates, the county budget for fiscal 2016 is still considered “extremely tight” and a crisis that could call for a a significant expenditure of county funds could plunge the county into a fiscal crisis.
Costs continue to rise as funding from both the state and federal governments keep dropping.
Budget watchers feel the 2016 proposed allocations allow the county to do as best it can with limited resources but worry that Floyd County is just one crisis away from financial disaster.