Opinion: During this election cycle we’ve heard from a number of candidates who still think Beavercreek just doesn’t offer enough to it’s citizens. There’s no leaf pickup, property taxes are supposedly high, water bills are high, and of course there’s no recreation center. Yes, at least one candidate mentioned the lack of a recreational center again. How can we get through the day?

Instead of examining all those things, let’s just look at one of the items that always seems to make the list. Yes, there is a list. The lack of a recreational center, or community center most recently appeared on a list of needs presented by the Beavercreek Needs Study Group in 2004. The group was that year’s incarnation of a citizen push for a city income tax in Beavercreek. That’s right, the call for a recreational center goes hand-in-hand with the argument for a city income tax. Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking it’s a stand-alone issue.

Screen snapshot from the now defunct Beavercreek
Needs Study Group website, in 2004.

That list called for a lot things under the auspices of “needs”. It called for more police officers, a new senior center, implementing the bikeway plan, park improvements, a community center (recreational center), leaf collection program, a weather alert system for the city, a fulltime city attorney and zoning technician and so on.

Funny how many of the things on that list from 2004 have already been accomplished. And all without a city income tax, too. Yes, in fact with each passing year Beavercreek somehow continues to deliver more to it’s citizens and that old list from the Needs Study Group gets weaker and weaker. Maybe that’s why the group no longer exists.

And it might also be the reason why the argument has now turned from “needs” to trying to bribe voters with fuzzy promises of reduced property taxes. Did you know that under the failed 2007 proposal you would have paid the same property taxes in addition to an income tax for as long as 18 months? The plan called for implementing the income tax then waiting to reduce any property taxes. The overlapping collection would have dumped millions of additional revenue into the city treasury. Yeah, it was all about reducing your property taxes, sure it was.

But back to this call for a recreational center. The discussion usually goes something like this; Kettering has a recreation center, why don’t we? It’s free for all their residents, isn’t it? The answers are; we already have something like that and no, it’s not free for Kettering residents. The center is funded with taxpayer dollars and to join the fitness center at the Kettering Recreational Complex, residents must pay an annual fee of $125.00. And don’t forget, Kettering’s income tax is 2.25%. That means any resident who works in a city with a lower income tax has to make up the difference and write a check to Kettering. Is all that worth it for a recreational center?

The truth is Beavercreek already has a very nice YMCA offering many of the same benefits as the Kettering Recreational Complex. Our YMCA sits upon acres and acres of wooded land, has a catch and release lake, a walking path, a skate park, a new playground for children, eight lane competitive class swimming pool, fitness center, offers health classes, the list goes on and on. In fact last year swim teams from three area high schools used the pool for training.

And with the YMCA, taxpayers aren’t shouldering the burden as much with their property taxes. The next time you hear someone say we need a recreational center or community center like Kettering, keep in mind that in 1988, Kettering citizens were asked to approve a $10.7 million bond issue for major additions and renovations to the city’s recreation center. Yes, that’s right, a raise in property taxes. Seems like Kettering’s city income tax wasn’t enough to keep that big recreational center going. Now Kettering has one of the highest city income taxes at 2.25%. Those property tax dollars collected over the years and that city income tax have made it so that Kettering residents only have to pay $125.00 extra a year to join the fitness center. Now that’s progress.

Simply put, if you live in Beavercreek you still call the shots. By living here you get to make choices. When you think about it, Beavercreek is really one of the few cities left that allows it’s citizens so much choice. Here we have the choice of paying for our recreational needs at the YMCA or not. City officials have to give us good reasons for passing tax levies. We even still have the choice of who picks up our trash, but that may soon be threatened. And last but not least, because the citizens of Beavercreek were wise enough to prohibit City Council from enacting a city income tax on their own, we still have that choice too.

So when a candidate says we need a recreational center, what are they they really saying they think we need? You be the judge.