Powell City Council has closed the application process for candidates to replace retiring City Manager Steve Lutz and will begin interviews in mid- to late January, city spokeswoman Megan Canavan said.

Ralph Anderson & Associates, the recruitment firm with whom the city is working on the search, has provided a list of 16 applicants. A decision on whom the city will interview is pending. No interviews had been scheduled as of Dec. 20.

The list of applicants includes current and former city managers, a county administrator, other city department heads, a nonprofit executive director, an attorney and a director with the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation.

The majority of the applicants hold positions outside Ohio. States represented include Michigan, West Virginia, Delaware, Georgia, California, Wisconsin and Illinois.

"To find a person to fill the role is a tough ask," Powell Mayor Jon Bennehoof said. "It's hard when you see someone of Steve's caliber step away. He's a consummate professional."

Bennehoof said vitality, diversity and building a staff culture are traits he will look for in a new city manager.

Council member Frank Bertone said it's important to get the search right, in particular at a time when turnover is high among senior staff. He also said the new city manager will take the reins at an important time as Powell looks to balance and diversify development and its tax base.

"The city manager is in the forefront of those conversations moreso than council members," Bertone said.

Bennehoof said he hopes for a balance of replacing some of the skills Lutz has brought to the position with "some new perspectives."

Lutz, 57, announced in August his intent to retire. He agreed to remain in his post until the city hires his replacement.

Lutz has served as city manager since 1996.

He said he plans to continue to make his home in Powell.

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