At budget time, there’s little reason to celebrate for the county government

County administrator Dan Campbell and Supervisor chairman Case Clinger.
County administrator Dan Campbell and Supervisor chairman Case Clinger.

With the echoes of celebrations of a state high school basketball championship still on most people’s minds, the Floyd County Board of Supervisors today gets down to the gritty and depressing business of listening to more requests for more money for budgets of various county agencies in the coming fiscal year.

Board members tell me they see a long and gloomy day ahead and more budget requests come in, seeking money that is currently not in the county budget and increases that can only be paid with more taxes on residents.

Repeatedly, supervisors admit privately that the question before them this year is not if they will need to raise taxes but — instead — by how much.

Leading the way is the county school system, which wants more money to restore programs, reduce class sizes and pay higher salaries to teachers.  Floyd County’s school system currently ranks next-to-last in teacher salaries among Virginia’s 132 public school systems.

The schools aren’t alone.  Police department salaries also rank near the bottom as to pay and benefits for other county employees.  With crime rising, it takes more money to keep citizens safe, which is why Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephanie Shortt wants money for hire a full-time assistant prosecutor.

But paying for higher salaries and more county services must come from taxes against citizens who also make less than similar residents in other areas of the Old Dominion.

The bottom lines leave no room for celebration.  The county is all but broke and the only option left open to the county board is to require more money in taxes from property owners.  Many of them are broke too.

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