Commissioners give State of the County address


Delaware County was founded in 1808. Today, it has grown to 204,500 residents; covers 457 square miles; has an unemployment rate of 3.1 percent; carries a budget of $100.6 million for 2018; and is home to two of the top 100 golf courses in the United States.

These were a few of the bullet points the Delaware County Board of Commissioners presented Tuesday during the annual State of the County address.

As a numbers guy, Commissioner Jeff Benton discussed the three main sources of funding for the county’s budget, where the money is spent, and why it’s needed.

“Our general fund, which is our primary fund, generates almost $100 million in annual revenue,” he said. “The majority of that comes from the sales tax, which is about 62 percent. Another 15 percent is from the services that we provide and charge for. Then another 12 percent comes from our share of the property taxes.

“And when you add in the other 100-plus funds that the county is responsible for, that generates another almost $100 million,” he added. “Between the general fund and all the others, we have almost $200 million a year. It’s become a big business.”

Benton said the county has experienced very good revenue growth over the past decade.

“Revenue growth comes from the increasing population and increasing business activity,” he said. “That creates other demands or need for other services.”

Benton said “capital expenditures go up as well” for infrastructure.

“Just in the last few years, we’ve spent $38 million on the new courthouse; we’ve spent $30 million-plus on Sawmill Parkway; and in Engineer Chris Bauserman’s 5-year plan we’ve got almost $200 million of additional road projects.”

Delaware County maintains an AAA bond rating from Standard and Poor’s and an AAA bond rating from Moody’s. The county is one of two counties in the state and one of 80 counties in the country to hold both AAA bond ratings.

In addition to the dual AAA credit ratings, the county has earned honors and achievements for projects in the county auditor’s office, the regional sanitary sewer district, Job and Family Services, Child Support Enforcement Agency and Delaware County Emergency Medical Services.

However, Commissioner Barb Lewis broke the news that Delaware County is no longer the fastest-growing county in the state of Ohio. It’s now the second-fastest growing county in the state, she said.

Lewis did point out that Delaware County has been chosen as the healthiest county in the state by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation four years in a row.

“Also, 51 percent of our adult population are college graduates,” she said. “And we’re also number one for incoming investments in business and real estate.”

Lewis said the county has a homeownership rate of 82 percent, while the national average is 63 percent. She said the median income in the county is $92,000, while the national median is $57,000.

“The life expectancy here in Delaware County is 80 years, whereas the average in the U.S. is 76 years,” Lewis said.

Commissioner Gary Merrell presented things to come in the next few years. He said the county rolled out a rebranding campaign last year.

“There’s been a discussion over a number of years about possibly rebranding our county, maybe bringing it a little more current,” he said. “It’s always a big issue because there are those that like the way things were, but I think there comes a time when you need to kind of take a look at the way you’re framing your county.”

Merrell said the county is “changing, changing a lot.” He said he thought everyone is pleased with the new county logo, which was the first step in the rebranding process. Through research, Merrell said, the old logo goes back to the 1960s.

Benton discussed the newly streamlined county administrator structure that was reorganized in November.

“We promoted Mike Frommer to the county administrator position while retaining his position as director of the regional sewer district,” Benton said. “We also promoted Dawn Huston to deputy administrator and added to her responsibilities.”

Benton added the third change made was promoting Si Kille to deputy administrator, as well, and also expanding on his responsibilities.

Beton said one of the responsibilities of the board of commissioners is long-term strategic planning of the county.

“Last year, we were fortunate to finish three major long-term strategic plans,” he said. “The first was economic development, and we did that so we attract more businesses in the right locations to balance the residential growth. We have plenty of residential growth. We need more commercial growth to reduce the taxes on residents.”

Benton said the board also created a “master facility plan” and a “regional sewer district long-range plan to plan for the growth of the county in the future.”

The commissioners’ list of future goals includes some of the following projects:

• Renovate the historic courthouse

• Begin planning for the new sewer plant

• Continue work on the east-west connector

• Complete a study for U.S. 36 and state Route 37

• Continue to maintain the AAA bond ratings

• Roll out the county’s new website that goes along with the new branding

• Introduce more financial reporting tools and efficiency measures

• Evaluate the Transportation Improvement District Plan

• Launch an online planning software that links the private and public sectors

Delaware County employees 1,272 employees to maintain the county’s services. It has 500-plus miles of sanitary sewer lines with 24 pump stations, nine treatment plants and 10,000 manholes. The county engineer’s office maintains 457 square miles of roads.

By D. Anthony Botkin

[email protected]

Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.

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