At the first of a series of budget work sessions last week, County Administrator Dan Campbell told the Board of Supervisors that Floyd County faces the toughest times he has ever seen as a public official and probably the worst times the county will ever face.

For all practical purposes, Floyd County is broke. The budget is stretched as tight as it can do, the county is financing purchases with bonds and loans and the county is living from paycheck to paycheck and those paychecks come only twice a year when people pay their taxes.

There’s where another problem comes in. More and more county residents aren’t paying their taxes because when you’re out of work and forced with making the choice of paying taxes or feeding your children, taxes come out on the losing end.

County Attorney James Cornwell is spending more and more time in court as the county sues delinquent taxpayers and those who don’t come up with the money after the court rules can lose their property in a tax sale.

Scan the classifieds and you see column after column of “trustee sales,” which is foreclosure in Virginia where mortgages are secured by deeds of trust.

Sheriff Shannon Zeman says he needs four more deputies to bring his force to 21 — the minimum number he feels he needs to provide security to a county where the crystal meth epidemic is fueling a rapid rise in home break-ins, car thefts, robberies and even a rare armed robbery.

Over on County Line road a local resident saw people who weren’t his neighbors breaking into the house next door. He held them at gunpoint until the cops arrived to arrest a family where an adult man had a wife and child who were both juveniles.

County roads are falling apart because the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDoT) has laid off so many people and cut back on so many services that it doesn’t have the money or manpower to keep up.

In the opening of “A Tale of Two Cities,” Charles Dickens wrote “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

For Floyd County government, along with most other local and state governments in this country — it could read: “It was the worse of times, it was the worst of times.”

(Updated at 7:44 p.m. on 3/4/11 to correct the author of “A Tale of Two Cities”