The Delaware County commissioners faced numerous challenges in 2009, many brought about by the economic downturn.

The Delaware County commissioners faced numerous challenges in 2009, many brought about by the economic downturn.

While financial challenges will continue into 2010 and beyond, many positive things will enhance services for residents in the coming year, according to commissioners Tommy Thompson, Ken O'Brien and Todd Hanks.

"Delaware County is still the best place to raise a family, start a business and retire in the state of Ohio," Hanks said. "While we do have our challenges economically, and revenues are down, we continue to be the county others turn to in envy."

The county has several improvements planned for the coming year, Thompson said.

Work should begin soon on renovations to the Rutherford B. Hayes administration building that will allow the county to move the juvenile and probate courts out of cramped leased space on North Sandusky Street and into larger and safer facilities, he said.

"All this is being completed at a cost that is less than was projected and far less than a new courthouse," O'Brien said.

This spring, the consolidation of the county and city's 911 departments will be complete, O'Brien said. That will eliminate a duplication of services, improve response times to 911 calls and bring a show of "trust and a good working relationship between the county and the city."

"The study for the (Interstate) 71 (and routes) 36-37 interchange is also important for Delaware County in 2010," he said. "Though physical work on the interchange would be years away, this study may help make this interchange safer and more efficient. A better interchange can also facilitate economic development that will add to the tax base of the county."

Through the efforts of county treasurer Jon Peterson, the county has improved the way it processes payments by residents for court fines, costs and real estate taxes by now accepting debit and credit cards, Thompson said. That will continue to expand into other departments in 2010, he said.

The three commissioners said, however, the economy will still be foremost on their minds in the coming year and it will force all county officials to be sure spending does not outpace revenue.

"The challenge we have for 2010 is to monitor the budget and cash flow," said county administrator Dave Cannon. "We need to keep our personnel, so we can continue to provide the necessary services. In addition, we also have to keep an eye on the 2011 and future years' budgets, so that we can continue to operate without dramatic cuts ... as our reserves decrease."

"The underlying challenge Delaware County is going to face in 2010 is the same being shared with all government and businesses across this country, the slowdown of the economy," Hanks said. "With the continued recession finally seeming to bottom out, it is going to be mid-2010 before an economic recovery is expected, according to the Federal Reserve. Because of the downturn, all levels of revenue streams are affected, thus putting a strain on all departments."

Compounding this problem, he said, is the additional financial burden the county must assume when the state and federal governments cut spending.

"Upon researching and discussing the economy with experts in all fields, the second half of 2010 is expected to be the beginning of the uptick that will stimulate job creation and growth," Hanks said. "As with all recessions, this one will end, and when it does Delaware County will be poised to take full advantage of the upturn in the economy."