Hilliard officials plan to spend no more than $75,000 in an effort create and promote a brand for the city.
City Council members on Jan. 28 approved, albeit with a second effort, an ordinance authorizing Economic Development Director David Meeks to draft a contract for no more than the approved amount with the firm FrazierHeiby.
In June and July, a City Council committee interviewed several firms and selected FrazierHeiby for the job. The firm also developed the "It's Greener in Dublin" slogan for Dublin, used widely in the past decade on the neighboring city's marketing materials.
Funding for the branding effort became available at the start of the year.
The ordinance initially failed at the Jan. 28 meeting because only four members were present. Al Iosue and City Council President Brett Sciotto were absent; and one seat is vacant after Stephanie Kunze resigned in December to take her seat in the Ohio House of Representatives.
Jim Ashenhurst, who had voiced opposition to the project since its proposal, voted against the measure. Nathan Painter, Joe Erb and Vice President Kelly McGivern voted in favor of the ordinance.
Council Clerk Lynne Fasone announced the ordinance had been approved 3-1, but before the conclusion of the meeting, Assistant Law Director Tracy Bradford conferred privately with Painter and McGivern, and it was announced the ordinance had failed as a majority of all council members, rather than a majority of quorum, was required.
Bradford advised that only Ashenhurst could ask for its reconsideration.
Ashenhurst did so and then recast his vote in the affirmative, allowing the project to move forward.
Ashenhurst said after the meeting he knew the ordinance would have passed if another member were present, and he saw no need to intentionally derail the project.
But, he said, he remained opposed to the branding effort.
Ashenhurst said previously he did not think it prudent to spend money on what amounts to a marketing campaign with phrases and logos.
"We'll get nothing out of this," he said Jan. 28.
Other members seemed similarly apprehensive in the past, but resolved to make the contract include specific "metrics" to measure the city's return on its investment.
In other business Jan. 28, City Council members approved the purchase of rock salt, fuels, parts and service for fleet vehicles, as well as professional services for the building department.
City Council also approved legislation to purchase a vacant parcel at 5362 Center St. and a resolution supporting an application by Sunset Development to apply for housing tax credits from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency.
The tax credits will be used to refurnish the Sturbridge Green Apartments, 3750 Sturbridge Court.
Three committees also met in advance of the full council, including the Public Safety and Legal Affairs Committee, in which an ordinance proposing to repeal the city's ban on texting while driving remained in committee.
Bradford advised the city to repeal the statute because it conflicts with Ohio law that went into effect late last year. Hilliard's ordinance makes texting while driving a primary offense while Ohio law does not, except for drivers under the age of 18.
Iosue said he would prefer that Hilliard keep its law if for no other reason than a public relations tool, but police have the ability, Painter said, to enforce either the state law or the local law on a case-by-case basis.
Deputy Police Chief Bobby Fisher said the texting statute is difficult to enforce. Most often, police officers apply a charge of failure to pay full-time attention, an easier charge to levy in at-fault accident investigations.
An ordinance establishing a policy for alcohol consumption and sales in two Hilliard parks and by special permit also remained in committee Jan. 28.