- Written by Douglas Turner
Our Federal and State governments continue to mandate programs that they don’t fully fund but instead they pass this funding responsibility down to the local governments. Rural counties, such as Giles County in Southwest Virginia, don’t have a massive tax-base that includes huge industrial contributors and therefore are left with the task of placing additional tax on their citizens, many of which are on a fixed income and can’t afford the current tax, much less a new higher tax. Giles County has a population of approximately 17,000 and about 49% of these citizens are on a fixed income (19% age 65 and over, 16% on disability, and 14% at or below poverty level). These numbers don’t provide our county leaders enough revenue to add anything to the current budget, which is already knocking on the door of Richmond to send more money. Maybe Richmond, home of our General Assembly for a limited amount of time each year, should look at the overall State revenue received from each county/city in the State and send more money to the rural counties by way of the cash-cow rich local governments in Northern and Eastern Virginia. The subject of transportation funding is always at front and center at each session of the General Assembly and our elected officials seem to use this as their reason for not sending more funds to local governments for funding education and other programs mandated to local government. In my humble opinion, the answer to the transportation funding issue is to increase the cost of using our State highways and this cost should be prorated commensurate with the amount of use by large commercial trucking companies that crowd our Interstate and State highways to the point of creating an unsafe environment. This revenue can be assessed directly to companies based on the amount of fuel purchased in Virginia, whether at the pump, or in larger quantities delivered to their truck terminals. Those of us who travel on State highways at a much less number of miles than large commercial trucking companies on an annual basis, shouldn’t have to pay as much highway use tax. The time for Fair Taxation is upon us and we need elected officials who will make this a reality.