The years 2009 and 2010 are expected to have something in common for the city of Delaware.

The years 2009 and 2010 are expected to have something in common for the city of Delaware.

"We will continue to be challenged by the effects of the economy in 2010," said city manager Tom Homan.
Mayor Gary Milner agreed.

"We will need to watch our revenues very closely and adjust as necessary," he said.

While the budget council is expected to pass on Dec. 28 "reflects a slightly lower level of service, I don't think it should be appreciable," Homan said. Council will do all it can to minimize the effects on residents, he said.

"I guess the biggest positive is that our city's finances are in a lot better shape than those of most cities in central Ohio and beyond, and that we were able to balance the budget without a dramatic drop in services provided to our residents," Milner said.

While money will be a major challenge in 2010, the city has "a number of major projects planned in the coming year," Homan said.

Construction will begin this spring on the new YMCA recreation center on Houk Road, he said, which will include a gymnasium, indoor pool and new athletic fields.

The city plans several utility projects, including upgrades to the Hills-Miller water line. It also will continue with plans to upgrade the city's water treatment facility, Milner said.

Among transportation projects, work will begin to align Peachblow and Winter roads at U.S. Route 23.

In public safety, council is expected to begin discussions on putting a fire-emergency medical services levy on the ballot to raise money for new stations, equipment and additional personnel, Milner said.

For economic development, the city will continue to work with existing businesses to ensure they have the services they need to remain in Delaware, Homan said. "At the same time, we are always seeking out new businesses."

Sometime during the year, he expects to talk to council about filling the economic development director position. The post has been vacant since Gus Comstock left it to take a similar job with Delaware County.

"We can't go on indefinitely without someone in that position," he said. "There is no substitute for having someone on staff focused on economic development."

City planning and development director Dave Efland sees good things happening in 2010.

"In general, the development climate looks fairly promising, given the general economy," he said. "In 2009, we experienced housing permits just slightly above what we had forecast and we actually have seen a robust commercial permit year, all things considered.

"Given pre-development activity - concept plans, developer contacts, anticipated projects - I believe 2010 is likely to be on par with 2009 both for housing and commercial development, though I would not be surprised to see higher levels of both if the general economy improves," he said.

In addition to the start of the YMCA center, Efland expects the city to move forward with the purchase of the Delaware Hotel and planning for its redevelopment.

For 2010, the major challenge will be providing services the community has come to expect, given the staffing cutbacks of recent years, he said.

"The staff we have left are all seasoned veterans and work really hard each day for this community. One welcome change will be to code enforcement," with the anticipated upgrading of the current part-time code enforcement position to full time.