Council, Hillard sign Oberlin city manager contract

By Evan Goodenow -



A contract for new city manager Rob Hillard was approved by city council members Monday.

The contract will pay $120,000 annually after Hillard’s first six months of employment. It starts at $115,000.

Former city manager Eric Norenberg, who left in December of last year for a city manager job in Milford, Del., earned $115,762 annually. Finance director Sal Talarico has been interim city manager since January.

Reached by phone after the council meeting, Hillard said he’s looking forward to beginning work Dec. 5.

He said he plans to meet individually with council members and municipal department heads in his first few weeks on the job. He also plans to meet with Oberlin College leaders, human relations commission members, and business and community group leaders.

Hillard said his top three goals will be maintaining a balanced budget, continuing environmental initiatives, and pursuing social justice goals. His initial objective is listening to residents to get a better understanding of Oberlin’s needs.

“I’m very excited to begin,” he said. “I believe we can make a positive difference in Oberlin.”

The contract approval ends a job search that began in May. It stalled in August when a divided council couldn’t decide between Talarico and Lowell Crow, city administrator in Monmouth, Ill.

The contract includes four weeks vacation after a year of work, a minimum annual vehicle allowance of $2,400, and a $1,200 annual cell phone allowance.

It also pays for moving costs for Hillard to move from Allegan, Mich., where he served as city manager from 2005 through July.

The contract doesn’t have an expiration date. Hillard serves at the pleasure of council and five of the seven members would have to vote to remove him from the city’s top executive job. The pact includes four months severance pay in the event of termination.

Hillard was city manager in Allegan — a community of about 5,000 in southwest Michigan about 100 miles north of Chicago — from 2005 through July. He resigned under pressure from Allegan city council members.

Allegan mayor Nancy Ingalsbee previously said the forced resignation was due to new council members wanting to go in a different direction. She said Hillard did an excellent job while city manager, including helping obtain grant money for downtown riverfront renovations and for a water treatment plant.

A 51-year-old husband and father of two grown sons, Hillard was raised in Portage in southwest Michigan. After graduating with a degree in public administration from Western Michigan University in 1988, Hillard took a job the same year as an Allegan building official, according to his resume.

Hillard left Allegan in 1990 but returned to became assistant city manager and became city manager in 1995. He left in 2000 to become Yellow Springs city manager before returning to Allegan as city manager in 2005.

Evan Goodenow can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @GoodenowNews on Twitter.


By Evan Goodenow