The state of Delaware County is strong and growing, said its three commissioners during their annual presentation to the public Tuesday morning at the Fairgrounds’ new Agricultural Center.

Board of Commissioners President Barb Lewis opened by saying the state of the county is strong, and the reason for that is the partnerships that have been formed between local governments, organizations and individuals.

“Throughout the pandemic, we worked hard to stay connected, to reinforce and grow our community partnerships,” Lewis said, “because we know that together, we are stronger.”

“We have so much to celebrate here in Delaware County,” Commissioner Jeff Benton said, “and it starts with the partnerships we have with each other.”

“Leadership by your county-elected township trustees, city and village officials, and each of you made our continued progress possible,” Commissioner Gary Merrell said.

Each commissioner highlighted their areas of interest, emphasizing the partnerships and asking leaders to stand up and be recognized with applause. For Lewis, it was the social net that helps people avoid being evicted and turns lives around with graduation from special court-system dockets. For Merrell, it was the buildings, infrastructure, utilities and business parks that will keep growing townships like Berlin and Orange prosperous. For Benton, it was the revitalized fairgrounds, and local transportation services such as the Delaware Municipal Airport and Delaware County Transit.

By the numbers, Delaware is still the fastest-growing county in Ohio. The population grew 23% from 2010 to 2020, and the total population was 214,124 in the 2020 U.S. Census. Of that population, 55.5% of adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher; 39.2 is the median age; and at 23%, the largest population group is Generation Z, born between 1999-2016.

As a result of the growth, there has been a 23% increase in residential permits; an 11.5% increase in commercial permits; and a 27% increase in sewer tap connections, the county said in a handout given to guests at the presentation.

Infrastructure investments are being made, with $80 million projected in regional sewer capital projects in 2022-2023. There were two new sewer pump stations completed in 2021. There is also $35 million projected in road construction projects this year.

The county’s 2022 general fund budget is $128.8 million, with $76.8 million received in sales tax revenue in 2021. There was a 15.5% increase in sales tax revenue from 2020 to 2021, the county said.

County Administrator Tracie Davies served as emcee for the hour-long event, and brief promotional films touting the county were shown between each commissioner. Communications staff for the county said about 200 movers and shakers from the county and beyond attended the event, which had been held the last couple of years at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Powell. Budzak | The Gazette

By Gary Budzak

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Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.