Homan talks state of the city at Strand


An estimated crowd of around 130 people gathered inside the Strand Theatre in downtown Delaware on Wednesday to listen as City Manager Tom Homan delivered the State of the City presentation.

Homan, who is set to retire in July after 26 years of service to the community, began the evening by highlighting all who work for the city in various capacities and directly contribute to making it a desirable community.

“Anyone who lives in Delaware knows that this community is like no other in the region — full service, county seat, a liberal arts university, rich history, open and welcoming, and a vibrant downtown,” Homan said. “These are many of the reasons that make the state of our city strong. Of course, we face challenges, and over the course of the last 216 years, we’ve always found ways to address them.

“Delaware’s growth means constantly balancing a desire to preserve what we love and a desire to explore new possibilities. I believe we can do both if we remember to balance our priorities and focus on delivering the best outcomes for our community. Safe drinking water, regular trash and recycling collection, parks and recreational opportunities, and police and fire/EMS protection are among the many services provided by local governments. We likely utilize some of these services — water, for example — many times each day. But good government starts with good people, and tonight I want to highlight them.”

Boards and committees recognized by Homan included the Airport Commission, Board of Zoning Appeals, Civil Service Commission, New Community Authority, Historic Preservation Commission, Metropolitan Housing Authority, Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, Planning Commission, Shade Tree Commission, and Sister City Advisory Board.

Following Homan’s recognition of those boards and commissions, he detailed some of the projects that have either been completed or gotten underway in the past year. Those projects include more than 3,000 feet of new water line being installed on Pennsylvania Avenue ahead of its repaving this year.

Homan noted the city maintains 217 miles of underground waterline and 185 miles of sewer line with a state-of-the-art water treatment plant that pulls water out of deep wells and surface water from the Olentangy River, treating it to make it safe for residents.

“That plant sends out about 3.7 million gallons a day of fresh drinking water,” Homan said before playing a video further analyzing the operations of the Public Utilities Department.

Homan also reviewed both the Delaware fire and police departments, saying the Delaware Fire Department had 10,082 apparatus responses in 2023 and responded to 94.6% of those calls within the six-minute standard. In the Delaware Police Department, officers responded to 24,564 incidents throughout 2023, the first full year under Chief Adam Moore.

Other department successes highlighted by Homan during the presentation included paved roads, landscaped entrances, and the addition of a new columbarium at Oak Grove Cemetery.

Homan went on to address the city’s electric aggregation program, which went into effect last year after residents voted to authorize the city to negotiate electricity rates in 2022.

“More than 10,000 city customers are participants in the program, so far saving $2.1 million. That represents about $210 per customer since the program began in June,” Homan said while crediting Assistant City Manager Kyle Kridler for leading the effort.

Of course, no presentation on the state of the city would be complete without an update on The Point project. “I have mentioned The Point in nearly every presentation I have given since coming to Delaware in 1999, and, finally, I am happy to report the work is underway,” Homan said.

Last May, state and local officials turned the first shovels of dirt on The Point project at the intersection of U.S. Route 36 and state Route 37. The Ohio Department of Transportation is widening the railway underpass to allow for five travel lanes below the bridge structure, allowing for free and efficient movement of vehicles through this intersection.

Homan noted the project, which is expected to be completed in 2026, also includes the construction of new pedestrian and bicycle paths as well as safe road crossings.

Finally, Homan addressed the single most pressing issue facing the city in the years to come — the pending income tax increase voters will see on the ballot on March 19.

“Delaware is successful in so many ways as an award-winning city but continues to have more needs than it has resources available,” he said. “Next month, residents will see two issues on the March 19 ballot. The first proposes a temporary, 0.35% income tax that would enable us to do several things, most importantly maintain failing streets and alleyways and make capital improvements to existing facilities. We have a backlog of 195 streets in need of repair and this would allow us to fix 100 of them in five years.”

Homan said the five-year lifespan of the proposed increase is “vital” in that it would allow residents to see how the additional revenue is being used before deciding on an extension of the levy.

He added, “We have a beautiful city and we want to see it stay this way for many years to come. Success on March 19 will ensure we’re able to maintain the quality of life that makes Delaware so special and make the needed improvements to maintain our streets and infrastructure.”

Homan concluded his presentation by saying, “Finally, while this is the first State of the City night of this kind, it will be my last. I announced last summer my retirement this summer and am looking forward to welcoming a new manager before departing in July. It has been my honor and privilege to serve as city manager over the past 26 years. Delaware is a wonderful community with a strong sense of place, a rich history, and citizens who take pride in living and working here.

“The strategies we’ve adopted are intended to make a difference not just today, but for generations to come. I am proud of the work our staff has accomplished in partnership with our residents and community partners. I am grateful to the mayor, city council, and prior council members I have served for their support, leadership, and commitment to our city. My time here has included growth and change, fire and flood, and even a global pandemic. Through it all I have seen the incredible resiliency of our community and a willingness to work together.”

Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.

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