Upper Arlington officials are expected to begin interviewing candidates for the city manager's position by the end of this month.

Upper Arlington City Council President Kip Greenhill said June 14 neither he nor other members of council had reviewed the pool of candidates and that prospective administrators still were being sought.

"This is going to be an ongoing process," Greenhill said. "I will call what we're in the 'candidate identification stage.'

"Our consultant firm is reaching out to potential candidates across the country."

In March, council unanimously approved a $37,950 contract with Ralph Anderson & Associates of Rocklin, California, to assist in the search for Upper Arlington's next city manager.

The post has been filled on an interim basis since Feb. 1 by Assistant City Manager Dan Ralley after Ted Staton retired Jan. 31.

Staton, the city manager since July 2011, had been on medical leave since last October. He died Feb. 12 from esophageal cancer.

Greenhill said there has been a "significant number" of applicants, but council members had not yet seen the list.

"The initial screening will be done by the consultant firm," he said.

"They can see some people just aren't a good fit.

"Then, the council will work with the consultant group to determine who the best candidates are. Ultimately, council will decide who's to be interviewed and city council will decide who's to be offered the job."

Greenhill expects five or six applicants to be interviewed by council members around the end of this month.

But even if "finalists" are identified, he said, more candidates could be brought in at a later time.

"We'd like to have (a new city manager) in place by Labor Day," he said. "But if the right candidate doesn't emerge through the first round, we're committed to keeping the search open.

"We consider this the most important decision we make as a council. We're going to take our time."

Greenhill said council hasn't discussed a possible salary for the next manager.

Station was paid an annual salary of $206,589.63 at the time he retired.

Greenhill said among the top qualifications he wants in the next city manager are experience leading communities and staffs similar to Upper Arlington and the willingness to communicate directly with residents.

He said candidates must be comfortable soliciting public feedback about "significant decisions" that city leaders must make.

"I think the theme through this council is community engagement, community outreach for all significant decisions," Greenhill said. "The thinking of our council is that will reduce some of the contentiousness we've had over some of the decisions we've had to make.

"It's a management style where they feel comfortable with engagement, not just the city manager making decisions."