Violet Township officials have chosen longtime Pickerington service director Ed Drobina to serve as the township's next administrator.
The township trustees voted unanimously Dec. 18 to hire Drobina to lead day-to-day operations.
Drobina, 60, has worked for Pickerington for 16 years, including the past 13 as its service director.
He takes the post after former township operations director John Eisel died July 5 while vacationing with his family in Cumberland, Kentucky.
Although Drobina will hold a different title as administrator, his duties will be the same as Eisel's were. The change in the position's title means township fire Chief Mike Little will report to the township's board of trustees and not the director of operations, according to trustees chairman Darrin Monhollen.
"I am very excited to go and assist our neighbors in Violet Township," Drobina said. "It's just a new opportunity and it gives me an opportunity, to continue doing what I like doing, and that is helping people."
Drobina will start with the township Jan. 6. He'll receive an annual base salary of $125,000, and he'll also receive a $250 monthly vehicle stipend.
It's unclear yet whether Drobina will receive employee benefits, such as medical insurance, from the township.
"Mr. Drobina is a highly qualified, experienced professional that has an extremely high-level, global understanding of the Violet Township area," Monhollen said.
"Ed has been a well-respected asset to the city of Pickerington and will provide a unique perspective as to how Violet Township government may best work collaboratively with Pickerington city government.
"Mr. Drobina's willingness to accept the challenge of being our township administrator is a win-win for both the residents of the incorporated and unincorporated areas of Violet Township," Monhollen said.
Drobina's hire is a change of fortune from how the city of Pickerington filled its top administrative post in August, when it hired 18-year township engineer Greg Butcher to serve as city manager.
Drobina said he leaves the city on good terms and echoed Monhollen's sentiments that he and Butcher changing municipal sides should strengthen government relations between Pickerington and Violet Township.
"I think it's going to help the communications of the city and township," Drobina said.
Drobina wasn't among the 12 applicants to apply for the administrator's post as of Oct. 18.
Monhollen said township officials recruited Drobina after officials reached an "impasse" with it's three finalists for the position. They were Jillian Boone, Fairfield County Common Pleas Court, court administrator and magistrate; Holly Mattei, Violet Township, development director who resigned, effective Dec. 20; and Deborah McDonnell, Allegany County, New York, county administrator.
"As chairman, I contacted (Pickerington) Mayor (Lee) Gray to solicit his thoughts regarding Ed being a potential candidate for the township administrator's position," Monhollen said.
"The communication developed into Mayor Gray stating that Mr. Drobina is an outstanding employee with a tremendous wealth of knowledge who is extremely well respected in the region."
Drobina said he expects to be a "bridge" hire for the township for the next 18 months to two years.
He said he won't know what his priorities for the township will be "until I get in there and look at the budgets, projects and what they have started."
Drobina will take the township post just days after being sworn in as the village of Carroll's next mayor.
He was elected as a write-in candidate in November, after his wife Tammy chose not to seek re-election following two terms in office.
Butcher said Drobina's last day with the city of Pickerington was Dec. 20.
He said city officials had been preparing for the possibility of Drobina retiring.
"Violet Township approached him with the opportunity of being their new administrator," Butcher said. "It's an exciting opportunity for Ed. It allows him to transition to a new local government within the Pickerington community.
"The city of Pickerington will be replacing Ed," he said. "The timeline has not been established yet."