By Wendy Bauder

How do you assign a value to a place in which you live? How you reassess that value to keep progress a priority when hard decisions have to be made?

My husband and I moved our family to Tipp City eighteen months ago. Our decision was based on what we heard both in and out of town and what we saw with our own eyes.

Tipp City is a well-kempt, safe community. Tipp City has a good reputation that is well earned. The school system is stellar. Tipp City is rife with history, town events and a forward-thinking city council. Taxes are reasonable and, on the whole, people seem to care about keeping Tipp City all that it already is.

I attended my first Town Hall Meeting on Tuesday night. Truth be told, I wanted to meet a few people and abate my general ignorance about the town. I had to giggle at the symmetry of holding a town meeting in a church; I heard plenty of preaching. One man said that his street hadn’t been repaved in nearly half a century, then grumbled that Tipp City’s growth, specifically a federally mandated storm water program back in 2003, and the recent 64 cents per month for leaf pick-up, usually hit Tipp City residents in the pocketbook. Another man likened the city’s operation to his personal business. His quick fix for Tipp City was to wield a red correction pen like Zorro; slash incomes, cut out fireworks, take away insurance, lay people off, raise taxes. Let’s not forget the annihilation of morale.

The hard reality is that Tipp City isn’t a faceless entity; it’s an intertwined network of people we know. My children go to school with children of city employees. One particular police officer uses his off time to help coach the high school’s bowling team. Many city employees are paid for one job and volunteer for another – like the fire department. Some city offices share ancillary staff to stretch their dollars a little farther. Overall, Tipp City has proverbially squeezed blood from a turnip in light of its operating budget.

City Manager, Jon Crusey, shared a Power Point presentation which gave a comprehensive look at Tipp City’s revenue and expenditures. Seeing the numbers, pie charts, graphs in black and white didn’t leave a lot of room for complaining. Or rather, it shouldn’t have. Still I heard one woman wonder aloud if building a community swimming pool in 2005 was a good move with the current economic recession and lousy weather this past summer. Is she casting blame on the White House or the lack of oppressive, energy-sapping, Midwest summer heat? The aquatic center is a 21st century boon to a place like Tipp City; a safe, family-friendly retreat from the heat and a revenue-generating draw to surrounding communities. God and the President have nothing to do with it.

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and spent my adult life, until now, in Chicago. No one offered to pick my leaves up for 64 cents a month. I spent my childhood smelling the Bay if the wind was right and experiencing the same thing with Lake Michigan. I don’t care to smell stagnant storm water because I expect Tipp City to serve my needs without providing a way to make it happen. I don’t want to call for help and not have someone respond quickly because we slashed city funds like a Halloween horror flick.

One man said he likes the small town feel of Tipp City and if he wanted to live in Dayton, he’d move to Dayton. I say he can rest easy. Tipp City is a far cry from Dayton or Cincinnati or Columbus. Tipp City is as quaint as television’s Mayberry without being backward. It has plenty of room to grow without losing its intimate appeal.

Finally one woman spoke up in favor of volunteer work and of banding together toward a common goal. From there the meeting took a positive turn toward finding creative solutions. We ceased beating the dead horse of “woulda, coulda, shoulda.”

It’s been said that one shouldn’t be part of the problem if they’re not willing to be part of the solution. In terms of time, talent or sixty four cents, what’s the solution worth to you?