Best Bang for Your Buck

Busting the myth that the suburbs are the better option

By Dayton Mayor Gary D. Leitzell

Dayton's Wright-Dunbar neighborhood is just one of many affordable community options.

As Mayor, one of my key goals is to help alter long-term misconceptions and untruths that have become generally accepted as fact. Whether it’s the falsehood that downtown Dayton is unsafe or that recycling doesn’t really save taxpayers much money, these long-held pieces of misinformation inflict serious harm on the way we see ourselves as citizens.
By possessing fair and accurate information we can make decisions without having our judgments clouded by the false perceptions of others. In order to move Dayton forward, we need to have an objective, clear-eyed view of our strengths and weaknesses.
There is a broad scope of perceptions and opinions to analyze, but let’s examine one particular set — the value and cost of living in Dayton. There is a local myth that it costs more in taxes to live in the City of Dayton.
I recently compiled some information that may shock you and frustrate the critics who would have you believe Dayton has no future or is not a great place to live, work and raise a family. I began researching this information after wondering what it really costs to live and work in Dayton compared to some of the communities around us that are deemed by many to be more desirable places to call home.
My office often receives phone calls from citizens who are angry about one issue or another and then while they have my attention, take the opportunity to bemoan Dayton’s supposedly high income tax rate and praise municipalities that don’t have an income tax. When I share with them the real facts, they are often pleasantly surprised.
Fact: Dayton is still the most cost-effective place to call home in the Miami Valley.
The adjacent chart depicts five local jurisdictions, comparing a variety of factors: median average home value, the effective real estate tax rate and amount of taxes paid annually, average annual water bill, average waste collection fee, and finally, income taxes paid to each of the municipalities based on incomes of $35,000, $45,000 and $55,000.

The numbers, by neighborhood.

These stats clearly reveal that for middle class income levels, the City of Dayton offers the lowest cost of living based on owning a home of median average value. The largest factor affecting how much we pay in local taxes is not income tax rate, but home value. It costs more to own a median average home in either of the two townships listed and pay no income tax than it does to live and work in the Gem City. A $200,000 home in Dayton would cost more than $350,000 if it were located in another municipality.
Let’s also look at what you are getting for your money: walkable streets, a well-trained police force, professional firefighters, emergency medical crews, waste collection and recycling, as well as a community made up of 65 neighborhoods where friendly people everywhere care about where they live.
Let’s not permit negative perceptions to get in the way of rebuilding Dayton and strengthening our region. The next time you hear one of your friends, neighbors, or family members say something critical about the quality of life in Dayton, share these facts with them. Dayton remains the best value for your dollar in Montgomery County and the proof is in the numbers.

Reach Dayton Mayor Gary D. Leitzell at (937) 333-3653 or

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