BEDFORD, Va. -

Bedford County is growing faster than almost any community in southwest Virginia and some believe the draw is low taxes.

The county's real estate tax is $0.50 per $100 of assessed value, one of the lowest rates in the entire state.

Property owners in every adjacent county pay more, ranging from $0.53 in Campbell County, to $1.09 in Roanoke County.

Bedford's days of rounding out the bottom may be numbered.

"We need new revenue," said Steve Wilkerson, a county supervisors who represents the New London area.  He worries about the county's growing list of looming expenses.

A legal agreement requires construction of a new middle school in the Liberty zone, and fire fighters have asked for increased funding to replace aging equipment.  The county landfill is just four years away from running out of room and will require a $4-million expansion.

Although he considers himself a fiscal conservative, Wilkerson doesn't see how the county can afford to balance its budget without raising taxes.

"I think a tax increase is the most realistic, timely, and effective way to deal with our revenue problems," Wilkerson said.

At a meeting Monday night, county leaders discussed raising the tax rate gradually over the next five years, beginning with a five cent jump next year.

County residents like John Briscoe say the idea is unacceptable.

"I take offense when the government tells me that they can't do without, but I can," said Briscoe, who attends many public meetings in the county and frequently shares his thoughts on issues of taxation.

Briscoe believes there are other places to cut and save money over time to cover the expenses.

Wilkerson isn't convinced that's possible.

"Hopefully there will be other avenues that we can pursue that will generate funds, but when you need money you need money," Wilkerson said.

WDBJ7 spoke with supervisors Tammy Parker and Steve Arrington Tuesday.  Both were unavailable for on-camera interviews, but stated their opposition to raising the real estate tax as proposed.

Parker shared concerns about budgeting on the part of the school system.  Under the Bedford reversion agreement, passed in 2013, the school system is receiving more than $6-million in additional state funds annually through the end of the decade.  Parker wonders why the school system is choosing to spend that money now, instead of saving it to pay for future construction.

Supervisors will hold a work session Wednesday night to discuss a possible tax increase further.  No votes will be taken on the matter at that time.

Citizens will have a chance to share their opinion at a public hearing April 7.