Government

More cost, more services in Village

Conventional wisdom says that Yellow Springs is an expensive place to live relative to other area towns, and statistics bear out that assumption. However, villagers may not know that while they pay a premium to live in Yellow Springs, municipal government costs are mid-range compared to other towns. It’s the combination of those local municipal taxes, utilities and robust support for local schools that puts the village at the forefront of costly municipalities.

For their money, Yellow Springs residents also receive a wider range of services than other comparably-sized villages (see sidebar).

Villagers will vote on May 3 on a renewal of the current five-year 8.4 mill Village property tax levy, which provides about 25 percent of the Village’s general fund revenues, which fund most human services. The renewal, if passed, would not increase local property taxes. Rather, a property owner would continue to pay at the current rate, which is $233 per $100,000 valuation of a home, according to Greene County Auditor David Graham.

The levy renewal is necessary due to rising costs and declining revenues, Village leaders have said. Since the recession, the village has experienced a decline in income tax and investment income, and state leaders are expected to reduce or eliminate streams of state funding. The levy renewal is needed to continue the current level of services, supporters have said.

That reasoning is familiar to residents in other area towns that are seeking municipal levies in May. In Greene County, Bellbrook and Beavercreek are both seeking increase levies for police operations and, in Beavercreek, for street maintenance.

“We’re trying to maintain what we’re doing, and what residents have come to expect,” said Bellbrook City Manager Mark Schlagheck in a recent interview.

The increase levy is necessary since, while revenues have remained static in Bellbrook, costs over the past five years have risen, he said. Bellbrook is seeking a $3.9 mill replacement and increase levy, while Beavercreek seeks a $3.7 mill and a $2.6 mill replacement and increase levies.

In Clark County, New Carlisle and Mad River Township also have levies on the ballot, and in Greene County, the Xenia, Fairborn and Beavercreek school districts are also seeking funding.

YS compared to other towns

Yellow Springs was the fourth most expensive out of 24 area towns and villages surveyed in 2008 by the City of Fairborn, in a comparison of total local government costs, including income and property taxes and utilities.

According to that survey, in that year Yellow Springs residents paid $5,078 on average for local income taxes, property taxes and utilities, based on a home valued at $144,896 and an income of $57,959. Those who paid more were Trotwood residents, who paid on average $5,681; Oakwood residents, who paid $5,646, and Kettering residents, who paid $5,081, using the same criteria.

Slightly less expensive than Yellow Springs was Huber Heights, with combined costs of $4,962; New Lebanon Village, with costs of $4,937 and Centerville, with costs of $4,817.

Towns at the bottom of the list were Fairborn, with combined government costs of $3,963; Bellbrook, at $3,961 and Beavercreek, at $3,833. Neither Bellbrook nor Beavercreek have a municipal income tax or school income tax.

In terms of municipal income tax, Yellow Springs was in the middle of the pack of the 24 towns and villages surveyed. Those who work in Yellow Springs pay a 1.5 percent Village income tax, compared to 2.5 percent for Oakwood residents (the highest) and, on the low end, towns with no income tax, including Beavercreek and Bellbrook. The average municipal income tax rate was 1.56 percent. The Village receives income tax only from those who work here, or who work in a municipality with a lower income tax rate, in which case the Village receives the difference between the two rates.

Most of the towns surveyed paid about one quarter as much in school income tax as do Yellow Springs residents. Villagers pay school income tax at a rate of 1 percent, while the highest school income tax, at 1.25 percent, was paid by residents of New Lebanon, Germantown and Farmersville. The average school income tax for the 24 municipalities was 0.28 percent, and many of the towns, including Kettering, Centerville, Huber Heights and Dayton, had no school income tax.

In a chart showing 2010 property tax rates in all 48 Greene County tax districts, Yellow Springs residents paid the eighth-highest amount, behind residents of districts in Sugarcreek, Beavercreek and Bellbrook. Villagers paid an average of $1,838 for each $100,000 of assessed value, according to a chart on the Greene County Auditor Web site. The Yellow Springs total includes the 8.4 mill Village property tax, which first showed up in 2007 bills.

The lion’s share of Yellow Springs property tax goes to the local schools. About 53 percent of local property tax goes to the schools; 18 percent to Greene County; 17 percent to Village government (including the 8.4 mill levy); 7.2 percent to Miami Township; 4.18 percent to the Greene County Joint Vocational School; and 0.76 percent to the Greene County Health District.

Yellow Springers paid a higher than average amount for utilities, with an average annual bill of $960 for water and sewer, based on 1,000 cubic feet of usage monthly. The average water and sewer payment for the 24 municipalities was $739, with Cedarville residents paying top dollar at $1,004 and Miamisburg residents paying the lowest amount, $454.

Electricity costs tend to be lower in Yellow Springs than in surrounding communities, since the Village provides its own electricity as a member of American Municipal Power, or AMP, rather than purchasing power from DP&L. While the Village’s base cost of 6 cents per kilowatt hour for average residential users is substantially lower than DP&L’s kwh cost of 14 cents, the current actual cost villagers pay for electricity is not that much lower than DP&L due to a variable power sales cost adjustment fee added by AMP monthly to cover the changing costs of gas and oil. The power cost adjustment fee has been steadily rising through 2010, according to figures provided by Village Utilities Clerk Suzie Yount, and Village Energy Board member Reggie Stratton stated that his own bills indicated an average residential cost of 11.5 cents per kwh in 2010.

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