To tax or not to tax

If speakers who have appeared at recent meetings of both the School Board and Board of Supervisors represent an accurate demographic of Floyd County, a tax increase is overwhelmingly favored to support increased needs of a new fiscal year budget that goes into effect on July 1.

If speakers who have appeared at recent meetings of both the School Board and Board of Supervisors represent an accurate demographic of Floyd County, a tax increase is overwhelmingly favored to support increased needs of a new fiscal year budget that goes into effect on July 1.

Some supervisors, however, say comments from the constituents they represent run overwhelmingly against a tax increase.

Here at Blue Ridge Muse, emails run about 50 – 50 for and against paying more taxes to support budget increases primarily for the county school system, which currently accounts for about two-thirds of the $30 million plus budget.  Same for comments during breakfast at Blue Ridge Restaurant during the week.

So what really is the will of the voters?  Unknown at this point.  No formal public opinion polls exist on the question in Floyd County.  The last three county supervisors to lose re-election bids point to their votes in favor of previous tax increases as primary reasons for their defeat at the polls.

Perhaps the question should be put to voters in a referendum in an upcoming election.  That might gives voters a chance to say what they want at the ballot box.  That might also be dangerous because tax increases usually lose in public referendums, particularly in areas where conservatives dominate elections.

Most supervisors tell me a tax referendum would probably fail because Floyd County is, by and large, conservative.  They are probably correct about the right-wing makeup of the electorate.

The current Board of Supervisors is all Republican.  Among elected county officers, only Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephanie Shortt is not a card-carrying member of the GOP.  She runs as an independent.

Republicans dominate election results in Floyd County, even when the outcome goes the other way statewide.

For example, Barack Obama carried the state easily in the 2012 Presidential election but Mitt Romney finished at the top of the Presidential ballot easily in Floyd County.

Same for the governor’s race in 2014. Terry McAuliffe won Virginia but Ken Cuccinelli led the ballot locally.

Many years ago, President Richard Nixon used to talk about the “silent majority,” a part of the electorate he claimed was silent everywhere except the ballot box.

Nixon’s “silent majority” consisted mostly of older Americans — much like the bulk of the population of Floyd County.

3 thoughts on “To tax or not to tax”

  1. I think at least part of the problem with taxes is how our federal government works. They borrow around 37 cents of every dollar they spend. This has led to a disconnect from the reality that taxes are needed to pay for services and that services need to be limited by how much in taxes people are willing and able to pay.

    Politicians at the local level tend to model themselves after their national leaders. For Republicans/conservatives this means a devotion to not raising taxes. They also claim to be in favor of cutting spending, but a look at the evidence (at the federal level) shows this to be a complete fiction. Our local politicians don’t have the luxury of being “big government conservatives” like their national brethren.

    Ultimately many locals will not make the connection between taxes and services until it impacts them personally (see the recent green boxes/dumpster closings for an example).

  2. “Ultimately many locals will not make the connection between taxes and services until it impacts them personally…”

    Will, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. I don’t have a link to cite here, but when I read James Madison’s writings from the Constitutional Convention I ran across a letter where he said he didn’t think Americans necessarily objected to their taxes going up, but rather when they felt their money was being poorly spent.

  3. May not have gotten the tax increase, however, watch your re-assements…your property values will be higher and in turn you will have a higher tax bill.

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