Taxing times

As my story in today’s Floyd Press explains, the county Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 Monday night to hike taxes substantially for the upcoming fiscal years — raising the real estate tax rate five cents to 53 cents per $100 in assessed valuation and personal property taxes 75 cents to $3.45 per $100.

This means a property owner with property valued at $200,000 will pay $1,040 a year and a vehicles worth $25,000 (about average for recent models) will cost $862 a year.

At a time when many Floyd County families struggle to pay mortgages and keep food on the table they are being asked to shell out considerably more in taxes to support the escalating costs of county services, including four new deputies and two new patrol cars for the sheriff’s department and covering an $800,000 shortfall in the school system budget, which accounts for 80 percent of the county’s annual costs.

An escalating crime rate — driven by the explosive growth in the crystal meth drug epidemic — forced sheriff Shannon Zeman to ask for the extra manpower and cars and declining enrollment in the school system led to a drop in state aid that led to the financial shortfall — which was made up for the past two years by federal stimulus money but those funds ran out this year.

This hits retirees on fixed incomes particularly hard. Social Security recipients have not received a cost-of-living-allowance (COLA) increase in two years and a projected increase in Medicare rates for next year will wipe out any increase added to the monthly stipend.

Hard times ahead for all of us and it doesn’t look to get any better anytime soon.

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6 thoughts on “Taxing times”

  1. Doug or whom can answer, It may sound stupid but how did this personal property tax evolve, I had heard it was charged by the State at first to pay for something that was paid for many years ago, then passed down to the County, is it legal to be charged for tax over and over again on the same vehicle?
    It has got to be the most stupid tax I have ever heard of, Virginia already taxes my pension and most all other States do not, I really think it’s time to get out for me at least
    I look at other counties around that the roads are all fixed, the garbage on the side of the road is picked up, the grass on the side of the road is mowed, everything you would expect is done , Floyd nothing is taken care of.
    I’ve heard all the stories one finger pointing to the other, fact is to me the board of Supervisors is elected to be sure this stuff is done and fact is it’s not , nothing much is done at all. They will blame VDOT ,VDT doesn’t have the money to operate, and to me because this board doesn’t do enough to get the money from the State to take care of all the Counties needs.,
    Now The board will blame all else but the fact is ride around the surrounding counties and all is well roads taken care of, grass mowed, garbage picked up and the schools look very nice and most all the buses at schools are very new, in other counties that is, not here,
    so yes I blame who is elected they should be booted out if they don’t do their job, and a lot of these guys sit here for way to long, and are just in the good ole boy club, the old club needs a house cleaning!!
    Firemen and Police give them whatever they need to do the job period., no argument there. Sheriff says he needs something to do his job , give it to him, same with the Fire Chief.

    • Bob, a number of states and localities levy personal property taxes. Some — like Virginia — do it on vehicles for individuals and inventory and equipment for businesses and a few also levy personal property taxes on household belongings, including furniture, jewelry, etc.

      Elected officials will tell you that personal property taxes provide a way to raise tax revenue from those who don’t own real estate so that they help pay for schools, fire, police, sanitation, etc. The bottom line is that it is a revenue enhancement.

      Counties don’t pay for road repairs and improvements. That comes out of the VDoT budget and in the current state budget crunch, the smaller, rural counties like Floyd hover near the bottom of the list. I’ve ridden my Harley in deep Southwestern Virginia where counties even poorer than Floyd have worse road problems but the problem lies in the state allocation, not taxes levied in that county.

      Even at 52 cents per hundred of assessed valuation, Floyd County’s tax rates are among the lowest in Virginia. There is a myth that bringing business and industry into a county lowers tax rate. Arlington County, where Amy and I used to live, is home to more than a 25 Fortune 500 companies but has a property tax rate of 95.8 cents per hundred in assessed valuation. Property is assessed at 90 percent of “fair market value” and the cost of housing there is far higher than here.

      The same is true for property taxes. If the current increase holds, the personal property tax rate of $3.45 per hundred is still among the lowest in Virginia. Arlington Count’s current personal property tax rate is $5.00 per hundred.

      But keep in mind that more populated counties often have paid fire departments and police departments (Floyd County’s fire department is all volunteer and the rescue squad is a mix of paid and volunteer staff), county wide trash collection and county-wide water and sewer.

      Montgomery County’s real estate tax rate is 74 cents per hundred, Roanoke County is $1.09 per hundred. Every county near Floyd has a higher tax rate for both real estate and personal property, even with the increased passed by the Board of Supervisors.

      Personally, even with the latest increase, I think the tax rates here are a bargain. We own property and land here in Floyd County and pay less than a quarter of the taxes we paid for a 1,240 square foot condo in Arlington.

  2. Sounds like Mr. Taylor is getting prepared to run for office.
    Good luck, first thing you’ll have to do is get out and talk to people in your district. In the meanwhile you might study the budget, and take a look at what County services are provided. I can’t speak to roadside litter, our neighborhood picks up after ourselves, but for our part I believe we are well served.
    Under the Dillon Rule a locality is limited in revenue generation and spending by what authorities are granted by the Commonwealth. This might also prove an interesting study for anyone who condemns the Board’s decisions and believes they can do better. It’s easy to tear down, not so much to build up…

  3. $865 in car tax on a $25,000 car? Doesn’t sound correct for this year or any year.

    Counties and cities assess vehicles based on blue-book value as of January 1, so in future years the car’s assessed value should be lower and the car tax should accordingly be less. Virginia also has Car Tax Relief so the tax you would actually pay would be around half of the figure you quoted.

    • According to the National Auto Dealers Association, the average new car today costs about $30,000 so a two or three year-old car is worth about $25,000, which is what I figured for an assessment example.

      Some cars, like Wranglers and Suburus — which are popular in Floyd County — hold their value better than others. My 2000 Wranger, for example, has a higher NADA blue back value than Amy’s 2002 Liberty even though the Liberty cost more new. Of course, my 2009 Harley is worth more than either of our cars and is taxed accordingly. 🙁

  4. Jeff , no I don’t intend to run for any office , just saying in the end it’s the
    supervisors job to make sure things are taken care of here in Floyd Co. and now they are not. The counties around us all is done , just facts.
    Garbage on the side of the road, I have picked up several miles of roadside and literally hundreds of beer cans and 2 weeks later it doesn’t look like anything has been done, which says to me there is a LOT of drinking and driving in Floyd Co.
    Thanks Doug for the input I appreciate it.

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