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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