Hilliard Northwest News

City Council retreat

Hilliard officials might expand focus on marketing

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Hilliard official are considering renewing the city's contract with FrazierHeiby and may expand services with the public-relations firm.

Early successes with the city's branding efforts through FrazierHeiby and how those successes can be built upon were among the topics discussed Friday, Sept. 6, at Hilliard City Council's mid-year planning retreat at the Heritage Golf Club.

Members of the administration, including Mayor Don Schonhardt and Finance Director David Delande, attended the morning session to discuss the city's current budget and establish priorities for 2014.

In the afternoon session, City Council members worked among themselves, identifying which goals set early this year were met and taking an early look at funding priorities for 2014.

Concerning the city's contract with FrazierHeiby, Schonhardt said, Hilliard's consistent branding is becoming recognized throughout central Ohio.

FrazierHeiby provided Hilliard with its new logo and brand: "Real People. Real Possibilities."

The firm also has aided the city in communicating public policy about such services as refuse collection and disposal.

"I'd like to see an aggressive proposal (from FrazierHeiby)," said Councilman Nathan Painter. "Now we have a baseline and we can achieve benchmarks from there."

Councilman Jim Ashenhurst suggested the Hilliard Area Chamber of Commerce and Hilliard City Schools be a part of the contract.

But Schonhardt said the district, which has its own public-relations department, would not likely need such services. Moreover, he said, he is confident of a mutual spirit of cooperation with the school district and an improving relationship with the chamber of commerce.

During a financial discussion, Delande told City Council members Hilliard is projected to add about $1 million to its cash reserve, allowing the city for the first time to carry over 25 percent of its annual general-fund operating costs.

The estimated $1 million surplus would be achieved through a combination of spending less than projected and receiving more revenue than projected, he said.

In a continuing effort to control expenses, Schonhardt reiterated his desire for in-house billing for refuse collection, disposal and recycling. The city's current contract with Rumpke expires June 30, 2014.

"I think (in-house billing) will reduce the number of delinquencies (and) we can keep a better handle on the revenue stream," Schonhardt said.

He also appealed to City Council members to support legislation that would increase the minimum amount the administration can spend without seeking City Council's approval.

Hilliard officials must seek approval for any expense in excess of $25,000. Schonhardt is asking to double that amount to $50,000.

"I think it is a reasonable request," said Schonhardt, adding that the amount is in line with other central Ohio municipalities.

Dublin can spend up to $75,000, Marysville $50,000 and Upper Arlington $40,000 without Council approval, Schonhardt said.

In some instances, the city could miss a deal to save money if the minimum amount is not increased, he said.

Schonhardt said the Hilliard Division of Police recently purchased a vehicle for $20,000, $3,000 less than the bid, because it is a 2013 model the dealership was liquidating.

"We were able to buy it, (but if the amount had been more than $25,000), by the time got legislation to you, that deal would have been gone and we would have missed that opportunity to save money," Schonhardt said.

During the afternoon session, Council Vice President Kelly McGivern said goals such as branding, universal city signage and revisions to the comprehensive master plan have been met or are on schedule.

Goals that remain to be addressed include creating a policy concerning the display of public artwork, McGivern said.