Steps toward Hilliard's transition to a city-manager form of government are expected to begin by the end of the year, according to Hilliard City Council member Les Carrier.

"It's sunk in now so let's get going," Carrier said Nov. 12.

On Nov. 6, Hilliard voters approved Issue 33, a charter amendment that replaces the city's "strong-mayor" model of government with a city manager.

Unofficial results from the Franklin County Board of Elections tallied 8,599 votes in favor of it (58.5 percent) and 6,094 votes against it (41.5 percent).

Issue 33 was opposed by the administration and did not have the unanimous support of Hilliard City Council, with President Albert Iosue voting against sending it to the ballot.

Carrier, along with council members Tom Baker and Andy Teater, were early proponents of the change.

They suggested it last year and supported a council resolution to place it on the Nov. 6 ballot in advance of other charter amendments that a charter-review commission was in the midst of studying earlier this year.

Hilliard residents "saw the need for professional management in a city our size," Baker said.

Carrier said he expects to utilize the city's human-resources department to help identify a firm to lead a search to recruit a city manager.

He said that process would begin soon.

Julia Baxter, Hilliard's director of human resources, said as of Nov. 12 she has not yet been approached by City Council members about a role in finding a search firm.

The change in governance to a city manager will not begin until Jan. 1, 2020.

Mayor Don Schonhardt's term, his fourth, ends Dec. 31, 2019.

Schonhardt has said little publicly in the months that led up to Election Day. Earlier this year, he said a transition to a city-manager form of government was a threat to the separation of powers a strong-mayor form of government maintains.

In a city-manager form of government, a council sets the direction for the city and the city manager is tasked with the day-to-day operations of the city.

A city manager serves at the pleasure of a council, similar to a superintendent and school board.

Iosue said he did not have any expectations concerning the outcome of Issue 33.

"City Council is elected by the people to serve the people," Iosue said. "Whatever the citizens decide as to our form of government, City Council will work hard to fulfill the will of the people. I relied on the voters to determine the form of government."

Iosue said City Council would "work diligently" during the next 14 months to be prepared with a "qualified" city manager at the start of 2020.

Teater said he has reached out to Iosue to discuss next steps.

"It's still too early to know," he said, how soon a city manager might be put in place but he allowed for the possibility a city manager could begin serving alongside the mayor in a transitional period toward the end of next year.

As a former school board member, Teater said, he believes he can bring "unique insight" to City Council concerning its search for a city manager. The procedure will be similar to the process of naming a schools superintendent, he said.

"Before (Election Day) was too soon but now we can begin having those discussions," he said.

Hilliard's change to a city manager places it in the same company as many other central Ohio suburbs, including Dublin, New Albany, Westerville, Worthington and Upper Arlington.

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekCorvo