According to most reports, the government of the Town of Floyd is flush with cash.

While the county government struggles with a tight budget that has that entity living, basically, from paycheck to paycheck, the town has a budget surplus. When organizations ask for money, the town has been known to give them more than they request.

So why is the town proposing a property tax increase?

The county held the line on taxes, reducing the tax rate to offset increases in property assessments and keeping the taxes for most county residents at or near the same level. For some — us included — taxes went down slightly.

But the town wants to tax residents more at a time when money is neither an issue or a problem for the government’s budget.

For some it seems foolish, for others greedy. It raises serious questions about the town’s management and appears — on the surface at least — to be both incomprehensible and a case of overt mismanagement.

At a time when many county — and town residents — are struggling to make ends meet, raising taxes when you have money appears foolish and ill-conceived.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. What kind of serious questions are raised, generally when a town works to anticipate expenses and raises revenue to maintain a balanced budget that is regarded as good policy.

    The services provided to town residents are considerable. A short list includes trash collection, mowing, painting and other maintenance to public grounds, restrooms, streets and sidewalks, administering compliance with the Commonwealth’s and Town’s own Regulations on everything from sign ordinances to stormwater.

    The Town of Floyd is growing as a tourist destination, and revenue stream to the area. I suspect one of the largest revenues to the Town is the meals tax, is it appropriate for the restaurants to bear the majority of the weight of welcoming our guests? Just asking.

    Let’s agree, most people pay more for their cell phones than Town or County taxes. As every other expense rises, it seems prudent to keep pace with the changes and anticipate and plan to accommodate growth. Floyd is in a far different place than the small towns with dying historic districts which have been written about. There is a reason for that, and we shouldn’t forget it is reasonable to pay for good service.

  2. Jeff:

    I would wonder if a town government that gives an organization more than it asks for because it has cash on hand and then proposes raising taxes is capable of asking serious questions or planning for the future? I would wonder if a government that proposes tax increases while too many residents struggle to help ends meet and keep food on the table is truly concerned about the welfare of its citizens?

    I’m sorry but I don’t buy into the theory that many residents who currently struggle to pay their bills are wasting money on cell phones, DirecTV or other frills. I know too many residents of this area who don’t have cell phones, don’t have satellite TV and who drive clunkers because that’s all they can afford. Too many residents of this area can’t afford health insurance. I’ve found that — too often — those who dismiss the struggles of cash-strapped area families are those who have never known hunger or poverty.

    Some may waste money but most I’ve encountered are simply trying to survive. Slapping such folks with a tax increase at this time is — in my opinion — bad government.

  3. Doug I’m not as well informed as you are. I suspect that few are. If there is a story to tell, then ask the questions and spin the tale. Most of us assume the best unless we learn otherwise. If ever there was a time to report on events and actions in the area this is it. The Comprehensive Plan (10 year) for the County is being renewed and most people either are unaware or are unengaged in the process. The budgets have been completed for the County and Town, most people either haven’t attended or haven’t had access to the information.

    The Community Action building lost it’s roof, support for staff and facilities at VDH and Mental Health and Fuel Assistance, Food Stamps and Health Service are all heading to reducuctions, folks depending on services have been affected, the VDoT has curtailed non emergency activities on most secondary roads, the truth is that there are greater demands for services, and this is where I base my argument that higher revenues are needed just to keep pace. There are ways for those with a higher standard of living to carry their share of the load, but it requires good policy for this to happen.

    If there are missed opportunities or poor decisions being made which affect budget, then it is time for people with the knowledge and skill to improve the process to step forward. I have also been frustrated by the inefficiencies of government procurement, and the behavior of public servants at various offices. There have been decisions made by people who are paid to know better, which only serve to hide mistakes. Generally it is the people behind the scenes which hide behind the front desk people which are responsible. I don’t think anyone is benefited by some of these policies which raise the cost of activities in the name of accountability, yet we have higher levels of paper chase than ever before. This is not a time for business as usual, nor is it a good time to rely on the old assumptions. But good decisions do come from people which which able learn on the fly.

    There are plenty of areas for involvement, and I hope that there is a recognition that public participation is needed, sometimes we are caught up in our personal obligations, and leave the advocacy work for “somebody else.” In my opinion we should have an interest in creating a community which values volunteer and professional contributions to the process of adjusting to change. We don’t know what the change will be, but we should know that we will have to accommodate it.

    Awful nice to day to be writing this, I got to get back to work. Thanks for your forum.

  4. Well, now, Jeff Walker raises a very good point, Doug. You wonder if a government that gives an organization more than it asks for and proposes to raise taxes when its citizens are struggling to put food on the table is a good government. Jeff Walker states that there are “plenty of areas for involvement” and I surely agree and I think would, also. I still find it very interesting that for an area where volunteering for community events is practically a second career that so few people involve themselves in government. Why? I’ve asked before but no one has come up with an answer. Is it because there is no enjoyment in participating in government while it is rewarding to participate in a pancake breakfast or a relay for life or any of the many other wonderful volunteer events in Floyd County? If that is the reason, then is there a way to make participating in government more rewarding? I don’t know the answers, but the old adage about foxes and chicken houses applies to government. Representatives cannot be elected and then expected to do what is best for the electorate. Our elected representatives will not be accountable unless they are kept under close watch.

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