After 35 years in city government, Powell City Manager Steve Lutz has decided to call it a career. Lutz notified Powell City Council of his plans in May and has agreed to continue serving in the position until his successor is named.
Lutz came to Powell to serve as the city manager in 1996, the first year Powell utilized the city manager position. Prior to coming to Powell, Lutz served as the assistant city manager for 11 years in Park Ridge, Illinois, and in various city government positions in Lake Forest, Illinois, both suburbs of Chicago.
Born and raised in Upper Arlington, Lutz said he wasn’t necessarily looking to “get back home” when the Powell opportunity arose. In fact, he said he was only expecting to be in Powell for three to five years, citing the average tenure of a city manager nationwide, which he said is around six years.
Lutz said his 23-year career in Powell is “unusual,” given that national average, but added that many communities around central Ohio have proven to be more stable for the profession.
Given all the changes he has been a part of in Powell, Lutz said it is difficult to single out the top highlights of his career. However, he said one thing he is particularly proud of is the construction of the Village Green facilities. Lutz said the site served as a manufacturing plant when he arrived in Powell. Today, Lutz called it Powell’s “vibrant community center,” which includes the municipal building, amphitheater, and splash pad.
Lutz added the rebuilding on Powell’s downtown, which had no sidewalks or street lamps when he arrived, and the levy that allowed for the building of six parks around the city are other fond memories he has of his tenure in Powell.
“It’s been wonderful, because it has not been like serving in one community for all those years, because of the growth, development, and changes we have seen here in Powell,” Lutz said. “It’s been a wonderful city manager journey for me.”
That growth, Lutz said, has been “controlled and managed,” and he added Powell has been very fortunate to have elected officials past and present who have been prudent in controlling that growth and holding development to a high standard.
Asked why now is the right time for him retire, Lutz said it had been in the back of his mind for a while. He recalled being told by people he would “know when it’s time.”
Lutz said that moment occurred to him late last year and that he knew it was time to move on to doing something else.
As for what he is looking forward to the most in his retirement, Lutz said he plans to take the first couple of month off and “not do a whole lot of anything” before beginning to look for what he would like to do next in life. He said he anticipates whatever that maybe will not include several night meetings, or events and functions throughout the week, as is currently the case.
“We’ll see where life takes me next,” he said. “But I still plan on calling Powell my home. This truly is my home, so I don’t anticipate relocating.”
He said he will most miss the interaction he had with the city’s elected officials, staff, and community.
“What’s nice about a community like Powell is we’re small enough where we all get the daily interaction, where we’re not insulated, and we’re not in a high rise office with several layers between us and others,” Lutz said. “And over the years, I’ve just had great working relationships and personal relationships with some great people, and many of them, they may come and go from government, but I’m still friends with them.”
Lutz said he anticipates the recruitment of his successor will take the rest of the year and possibly into the beginning of next year. He said he will not be involved in the recruitment but said of whoever steps into the role, “Whenever we hire new individuals here at the city, I just encourage staff members that you can never expect the new person coming in to be exactly like the old person. Everybody has different personalities, different ways of doing things, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The role is to get the job done, and there are a lot of different ways to do that.”