Delaware County is in better financial shape than other parts of central Ohio or the state, government officials said.

Delaware County is in better financial shape than other parts of central Ohio or the state, government officials said.

Administrators from four governmental areas of the county said that doesn't mean a little belt-tightening isn't needed and financial challenges won't arise in the weeks and months to come.

The four men spoke about the state of their communities at the monthly luncheon of the Delaware Area Chamber of Commerce on March 19.

Speaking were Allen Rothermel, Delaware assistant city manager; Dave Anderson, administrator of Liberty Township; Steve Lutz, Powell city manager; and Dave Martin, Sunbury's village administrator.

The typical agenda for Delaware City Council in 2004 was long, filled with development-related items, Rothermel said. In recent years, however, the agendas have shrunk so much that the council and planning commission both decreased their meetings from two to one a month.

"The March 9 (council) meeting harkened back to those agendas of five years ago," he said.

Until Anderson came to Liberty Township about 18 months ago, the fire chief also served as township administrator. Growth in the area changed all that, Anderson said.

In January, 19 commercial building permits were issued and the township continues to aggressively pursue new industries to the area, he said.

"We're working hard to increase the size of our pie, not compete for pie crumbs," Anderson said.

One of the township's top goals for the coming year is to do some long-term capital planning, he said. It is also looking at GIS systems that would allow emergency vehicles to change all signals at an intersection to red to speed response times.

Lutz said people choose where they want to live and his challenge is to make Powell as attractive as he can, providing services that people want, so they will move there. The same holds true for current residents who have come to expect a certain level of service from the city.

"Despite these tough economic times the city of Powell is in good financial shape," he said. "We don't want to cut back. ... We hope we won't have to."

He spoke about a recent community survey that showed residents were satisfied with the level of service they received.

The challenge, Lutz said, is to continue to provide that service but do it as efficiently as possible and at the lowest cost.

During a question-and-answer session, he said a group was studying the current 0.75-percent income tax to determine if any increase is necessary. Lutz said he expects the study to continue for the next few months before a recommendation comes before city council. Any change would need voter approval, he said.

The other challenge for Powell, according to the survey, is how to improve traffic flow and how to pay for infrastructure improvements in the coming years, he said.

Martin said Sunbury's financial leaders believe the village will face a $1.3-million budget shortfall in the next two years, partly because of a decrease in income tax revenue.

Sunbury has put a freeze on wages and might look at benefits, he said. It also has addressed overtime issues.

With only 35 employees, including the police department, "there isn't a lot of fluff to cut," he said.

The good news is that the village welcomed a new Kroger store in November, Sunbury's first grocery store since 2004. And other developers "are calling on a regular basis," he said.

Wear and tear on village roads will ease when Sunbury switches to a single trash hauler on April 1, instead of the seven to nine companies that now serve residents.

The Delaware chamber's state of the community series will continue at the May 21 luncheon when representatives from several townships will speak.

cpreston@thisweeknews.com