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.