The population of Delaware County has been growing since the 1970s.
From 1980 to 2000 the population more than doubled, and it has nearly done the same from 2000 to the present day.
Over the next 20 years Delaware County’s population is expected to grow by another 50,000 people.
Tuesday, County Commissioners laid out a path forward at their State of the County address.
However, before they got into the specifics of their plan, they discussed what they called the elephants in the room; the Liberty Township EMS situation and what is going on with Planet Oasis/Arcadia.
The Commissioners did not mention the recent resolution passed by the township seeking $1 million from the county. Instead, they reminded those in attendance that they had created a board of directors to asses and instruct best practices for the EMS system county-wide.
Individually taking each commissioner off to the side after the event, they each expressed some degree of hesitation with the resolution. None of them were ready to say whether they would support it or not, and a number of them said the issue had not been officially brought before them.
One of the commissioners indicated that such a request would tie up funds for other things the county needs them for. The $1 million request equates to roughly 1% of the County’s budget.
During the State of the County address, the commissioners also updated attendees on the most recent news with the Planet Oasis/Arcadia situation, informing them the matter was going through the court process and that the County would be ready to move once the matter was resolved there.
With those two matters out of the way, the three commissioners began breaking down the plan for what they called Smart Growth, by sharing what that means; what it requires; and what it looks like.
According to the commissioners, Smart Growth means commissioners want to protect what the county has while investing in growth.
They say doing so requires partnerships with organizations and groups like ODOT, JobsOhio, the MORPC, and local schools to name a few; and it will require tools like bond financing, tax incentive financing, community enhancement grants, and strategic planning.
Plainly put, with continued growth expected, commissioners are looking to diversify the county by bringing in more industry.
With that will come the need for a number of things including affordable housing and an increase in resources dedicated to keeping the peace.
According to commissioners, the crime rate has been flat and the Sheriff wants to keep it that way if not put it on a downward trend.
He tells NBC 4 he will be releasing a 5-year plan in the near future to address the changes he is expecting to see around the County.
Meanwhile, Delaware County is at the top of the list when it comes to a number of accolades.
The county is number one in the state for mean household income at $126,348; for home ownership at 81.2%; for the percentage of residents with a bachelor’s degree at 53.8%; for property-tax delinquency rate at 1.02%; for the percentage of residents who donate to charities at 89.6%.
Delaware County also has the second lowest unemployment rate in the state at 3.5%.
Maintaining those top spots on the list will not be easy as the population continues to grow and more jobs are brought to the county, not every worker will have 6-digit incomes.
Going hand in hand with the growth of industry and the need for workers; affordable housing will likewise keep crime down according to the sheriff.
Something that was not heavily discussed, but was mentioned as something that needed to be addressed, was the County’s public transit system.
According to Commissioner Barb Lewis, the public transit system in the City of Delaware is functioning well. The next step is figuring out a way to connect the northern part of the county with the southern part.
Being able to bring people down from the northern part of the county affordably, so they can shop in Polaris is something she would like to see.
The commissioners also plan to spend millions on roads, bridges, and infrastructure improvements over the next year. A total of $9.6 million is slated for operations and maintenance with an additional $40.4 million dedicated to capital improvements.