Advantages of life in town

Randy Riley - Contributing Columnist

Buck Run Road is tucked away in Chester Township, up in the northwest corner of Clinton County. If the village of New Burlington still existed, if the village was more than just a distant memory, it would be the closest town to this old, rustic, tree-covered roadway.

A path that ran alongside Buck Run Creek was probably the beginning of this pretty little road. Buck Run Creek starts about five miles away in the edge of a field that lies not too far from Stingley Road and West Mount Pleasant Road. Eventually, the creek flows onto the northernmost shore of Caesar Creek Lake, not far from the haunts of old New Burlington.

The lazy little stream never gets any deeper than “wading depth.” It’s the kind of creek and tree-shaded road that provides a setting that would draw people from towns and cities to relax in the cool shade of the countryside.

It’s a beautiful place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.

Imagine a cottage or a campsite back in the trees, within sound of the creek. It would be a great place to relax on the warm days of summer. No phones. No internet. No hassles. But, I wouldn’t want to live there.

I have never lived in the country.

We grew up in a small subdivision on the edge of Germantown, Ohio. We had close neighbors. We had city water, trash and sewer. We could walk to school. We could walk to the Bi-Jo Theater in the middle of town. When the pizza shop opened, our hot pizza was just a phone call away. I liked being a small town boy. I still do.

Turn on the tap and you get fresh, clean water. Set out the trash and, before noon the next day, it disappears. Flush the commode and you don’t have to worry about where all that nasty stuff goes. It quickly disappears in a swirl never to be worried about again.

If you live in the country, you need to have a well for your water. Well water may taste good (usually), but the well will also need to be cared for and tested occasionally. A bad well, or dry well, can be devastating.

It costs more to get rid of the trash that you generate. Even in the country, you’re not allowed to burn garbage.

Getting rid of that nasty sewage involves more than a simple flush. You actually have to worry about where “it” goes. Without proper care, septic systems can, and often do, fail. When that happens, things can get pretty ugly. If you live in the country, you don’t ever want your septic system to fail.

Regardless of where you live, if you have an emergency that requires law enforcement, the fire department or a life squad, well-trained volunteers or full-time professionals will be dispatched and help will quickly be on the way. In the city, emergency help will be there in just a few minutes. In the country, it can take a whole lot longer.

There are advantages and disadvantages to either option – living in the country or the city. Even if you live outside of the city but work within the city limits, you are benefiting from the many services provided by city government.

Because of the more readily available resources and conveniences that are in the city, it costs slightly more to live within village or city limits. Personally, I think it’s worth the few extra dollars a week that it costs to live in a nice, well-kept street in Wilmington, where I can have confidence in all the quality services that are provided by our dedicated, hard-working city employees.

Regardless of where you live, the ever increasing ‘cost of living’ impacts every citizen.

The cost of providing city services also goes up steadily year-after-year, and, unfortunately, the revenue that comes into the city, that makes these services possible, has steadily dropped year-after-year.

Over the past several years, money received from the state of Ohio for the city’s general operation has dropped by nearly $1 million per year. That money has been used by the state to help balance the state’s budget. I’m delighted that the state has balanced their budget, but it has been devastating to local governments.

Now, it’s time to take care of our local governments.

All of the local budget cuts that can be made, have been made. Services have already been lost within the city. We no longer have a building inspector. Our building and property maintenance code enforcement staff have been lost and have not been replaced. We are woefully behind in our street maintenance program. Hundreds of thousands of dollars that used to flow from the state Bureau of Motor Vehicles to our street department for road maintenance have evaporated.

I hate to say it, but our beautiful little city is starting to look somewhat shabby in places.

We can’t wait for the county, state or federal government to come to our rescue with a big pot of money. We are now at a point where we have to take care of ourselves. That’s going to cost more.

As a citizen of this community, I’m very willing to pay a little more in city taxes to keep our vital city services available and to keep Wilmington beautiful.

Washington Avenue will never look like Buck Run Road.

That’s just fine. I’d still rather live in the city.

Randy Riley is President of Council of Wilmington.

Randy Riley

Contributing Columnist