Barb Lewis lauded the 2015 accomplishments in Delaware County at the conclusion of Monday’s county commission meeting – the final one of the year.
Lewis, who took the lead in the absence of commission chair Gary Merrell, ended the meeting with prepared remarks that summed up the county’s year.
“It’s been an honor for me to serve as a commissioner this past year. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it and I’m looking forward to serve again in 2016.”
She said everyone from commissioners to elected officials to department heads and “our 1,100 valued county employees helped produce a very successful year for Delaware County.”
She recognized her colleagues — Merrell, former commissioner Ken O’Brien and newcomer Jeff Benton.
“Jeff hit the ground running and has worked hard to master the countless tasks that we have faced as commissioners,” she said. “His strong financial background was a key in helping us formulate our $97.6 million general fund appropriation budget and all three members of the board are very strong fiscal conservatives and we unanimously approved that budget just about a week ago after many hours (of) hearings, hours of technical analysis and discussion.”
She talked about breaking ground on projects such as IKEA on Gemini Parkway, the outlet-store shopping mall on routes 36/37 near Sunbury, the Sawmill Parkway extension into the city and the new courthouse and possible employment opportunities they bring for the county.
“All of these developments will provide good employment for hundreds of workers and many thousands of tax dollars for the county,” Lewis said. “We want everyone in Delaware County to share in this prosperity, especially those who are in need of employment and also not in need of employment, but better employment.”
She mentioned the 3 percent bed tax that will be on the ballot for the Delaware County Fairgrounds, which she said will give them, if approved by voters, “much needed funds for capital repair.”
Lewis also said she was glad that the commission approved the hiring of new economic development director Bob Lamb.
“He’s made a very strong start for us in the very short time he’s been with us,” she said.
County Administrator Tim Hansley is leaving Jan. 15 and there are also openings for a new manager of communications and a director of sanitary engineering, something that Lewis said will be their “first challenge of 2016,” though she is confident that they will “get the job done in 2016 for the citizens of Delaware County.”
“His service has really been unparalleled for the county and he’s done a wonderful job,” Lewis said about Hansley.
Benton did not have prepared remarks, but he added: “I think we have great leadership, both elected and the administrative folks. For me, it’s been a pleasure to join the group and help in that role to push Delaware County forward in a positive way.”
The commission also scheduled special sessions for Jan. 12 at 2 p.m. and Jan. 13 at 8 a.m., which will be adjourned into an executive session for employment and compensation of a public employee.
The commission canceled the meeting scheduled for Thursday and will next meet Jan. 7 at 9:30 a.m.