November 28, 2002

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Men’s Group releases ‘Cost of Living Report’

Yellow Springs residents pay more in taxes than residents of some comparable towns, but local plumbers are a bargain. And even though the village’s houses cost significantly more than houses in neighboring towns, renters here pay less, and utility costs fall right in line with those of other areas.

In short, some things about living in Yellow Springs cost more than living in comparable areas and some things cost less, according to the recently completed “Yellow Springs Cost of Living Report,” which was sponsored by the Men’s Group. The report is available at 11 locations in Yellow Springs, including the Yellow Springs Library, and online at the Men’s Group Web site,

The report also looks at changes in village demographics, painting a picture of Yellow Springs residents as considerably older, richer and better educated than they were 30 years ago. And with those changes, according to the report, Yellow Springs’ racial diversity has declined.

The Men’s Group will present the report at a public forum next Thursday, Dec. 5, 7–9 p.m., at the Senior Center. Everyone is invited, and opportunities will be provided for questions or comments.

The report began with a concern that recent local controversies involved assumptions regarding the costs of living here, but people had few actual facts about those costs.

“We had a lot of differences of opinions but not a lot of information,” said Men’s Group member Ron Schmidt, one of the project’s organizers. “We said, ‘Let’s get some information.’ ”

Now that the information has been collected, Schmidt and other organizers shy away from drawing conclusions. Rather, he said, the information is available for local residents to ponder and analyze as they see fit.

“We tried hard to produce an objective body of information,” he said. “We’re not going to interpret it. A lot of things are interesting. In some cases we’re more different than we thought and in some cases less. Our hope is that there will be lots of community dialogue around this.”

The project received funding from the Yellow Springs Community Foundation and The Antioch Company Charitable Contributions Program, and about 30 local volunteers helped gather the information. Because the Men’s Group sought professional methodology for the project, they hired Wright State University’s Center for Urban and Public Affairs to direct the project, which also drew information from 2000 census statistics.

The report compares Yellow Springs demographics and expenses with those of Bellbrook, Cedarville, Enon, Germantown, Tipp City and Waynesville, communities considered comparable in location, geography and socioeconomic factors.

In terms of the total rate of local property taxes, Yellow Springs residents pay more taxes than the other municipalities with the exception of Bellbrook. Villagers pay a total rate of 90.68 mills in property tax compared to Bellbrook, 95.98, Cedarville, 59.13, Enon, 68.11, Germantown, 70.32, Tipp City, 61.61, and Waynesville, 74.03. The total tax rate includes all levies, including those for schools, the county and townships, and health and other service issues. A mill is $1 for each $1,000 of taxable value.

However, the differences in tax rates narrow when the effective tax rate of property taxes is considered, which includes all tax reduction factors.

For the local property taxes effective rate, Yellow Springs residents pay an average of 55.77 mills annually, less than the 59.54 paid by Bellbrook residents but more than the people of Enon (48.75), Waynesville (48.35), Germantown (46.63), Cedarville (44.47) and Tipp City (38.86).

Villagers also pay the highest rate of municipal income tax, 1.5 percent, compared with a 1 percent tax for Cedarville residents. Bellbrook, Enon, Germantown, Tipp City and Waynesville residents do not pay income taxes.

Yellow Springs and Cedarville residents also pay a 1 percent school income tax. Again, residents of Bellbrook, Enon, Germantown, Tipp City and Waynesville do not pay school income taxes.

State and local sales tax rates are similar for all of the towns, with the highest rate, 6.5 percent, paid by residents of Enon and Germantown, and a 6 percent rate for the others.

The cost of Yellow Springs utilities ranks in the middle of the group. The average monthly utility bill here is $360.48, compared to $429.40 for Bellbrook utilities, $466.89 for Cedarville, $366.18 for Germantown residents, $361.05 for Waynesville, $287.29 for Enon and $285.03 for Tipp City.

The monthly Village electricity cost came in lowest of all seven municipalities, at $134, compared to $209 for Bellbrook, Cedarville, Germantown and Waynesville residents, $242 for Enon residents and $180 for those of Tipp City. Water and sewer rates in Yellow Springs were less than those of Cedarville and comparable to Bellbrook, but higher than rates in the other towns. Yellow Springs solid waste rates were less than those of Enon and Tipp City, but higher than those of Bellbrook, Cedarville, Germantown and Waynesville.

Housing costs in Yellow Springs are a mixed bag, with the average house valued at $151,600, based on 2000 census figures. That average price looms $20,000 above its closest competitor, Bellbrook, at $131,200, then Tipp City, $129,400, Waynesville, $127,600, Enon, $125,700, and Cedarville, $95,000.

Although housing prices are highest in Yellow Springs, median monthly mortgage payments fall in line with those of the other municipalities, according to 2000 census figures. The village average mortgage payment of $1,132 compares with the Bellbrook average of $1,240, Waynesville’s $1,085 and Tipp City’s median mortgage payment of $1,073.

And though the cost of buying in Yellow Springs is high, the cost of renting is surprisingly low compared to the other towns. The average monthly rent in Yellow Springs, $506, compares with Bellbrook’s $777, Germantown’s $526, Waynesville’s $532, Tipp City’s $524, Enon’s $476 and Cedarville’s $447.

The report also shows that housing prices in town have risen considerably over the years. In 1970 the median housing value was $21,400, in 1980, it was $51,000, and in 1990 it was $78,800.

In terms of health services, villagers pay $70 per doctor’s visit, versus $65 in Bellbrook and Waynesville, $59 in Germantown and Tipp City, $56 in Enon and $51 in Cedarville. To go to the dentist, Yellow Springs residents pay an average of $73 compared with $89 in Tipp City, $82 in Enon, $76 in Cedarville and $71 in Germantown.

Yellow Springs residents pay an average amount for auto repair services. At $10 the average car repair bill (the amount to spin-balance one front wheel) is lower than the $15 paid by Waynesville residents for the same service, and the $10.48 paid by those in Tipp City and $10.33 in Bellbrook. Enon residents pay $8 while those in Cedarville pay $7.50. Local plumbers charge significantly less than their competition: $48 for a service call, compared to $94.50 in Tipp City, $65 in Enon and $55 in Waynesville.

However, villagers pay top dollar for hair cuts compared with the other towns. Barber shop appointments (for men) cost $22 compared to $11 in Enon and Cedarville and $9 in Tipp City. Beauty shop appointments (for women) cost $25, compared to $24 in Waynesville, $22.50 in Tipp City and $16.50 in Cedarville.

A comparison of food prices in the seven municipalities reveals little variation in prices, with Yellow Springs residents paying $101.61 for a group of miscellaneous grocery items that were priced at $102.59 in Tipp City, $101.55 in Waynesville, $100.86 in Germantown, $98.23 in Bellbrook, $98.69 in Enon and $90.75 in Cedarville.

According to demographic information in the report, the Yellow Springs residents buying that food are considerably older, richer and better educated than were residents 30 years ago and those in the six other towns.

While the average age of a Yellow Springs resident was 22.7 in 1970, today’s average villager is 41.4 years old. The median household income has increased from $13,476 in 1970 to $51,984 today. While 12 percent of local residents in 1970 made an income below the poverty level, only 7 percent of today’s villagers fall into that category.

Twice as many professional people live in Yellow Springs compared to the rest of the state, with 60.3 percent of villagers working in professional occupations, compared with the statewide figure of 31 percent. People who work in sales and service jobs make up 27.1 percent of local residents, construction and production, 12.1 percent, and farming, 0.6 percent.

Almost 60 percent of villagers have had some post-college-graduate education, compared with 21 percent of adults statewide.

About 23 percent of villagers identified themselves as people of color in the 2000 census, compared with 27.8 percent in 1970. The numbers of African Americans declined from 26 percent in 1970 to 15 percent in 2000, although some of that change may be linked to the addition of a new category in the 2000 census — people who identified themselves as of mixed racial background. Almost 6 percent of villagers said they belonged to that group.

Overall, the total population in Yellow Springs declined almost 20 percent in the past 30 years, from 4,624 in 1970 to 3,76l in 2000, according to census figures.

—Diane Chiddister