City won’t hire a lobbyist. It’ll borrow one.

The city has opted not to hire a lobbyist to push for an early island-wide vote on changing Bainbridge’s form of government.

Instead, the city will leave the lobbying in Olympia to the Association of Washington Cities, a group in which the city is already a dues-paying member.

“It’s a great solution because it doesn’t cost us anything,” said City Councilman Kjell Stoknes, who joined his colleagues last week in supporting the altered plan.

The council had initially approved a plan to hire a lobbyist, likely at a cost of $20,000, to persuade state legislators to allow islanders to vote six months early on a ballot measure that would replace the elected mayor’s office with a manager hired by the council.

State rules require that change-of-government ballot measures go to voters in November.

Supporters of the vote say the law is flawed, forcing the next mayoral race to share a ballot with a measure aimed at eliminating the mayor’s office.

A change in state law, they hope, will give legal legitimacy to a council resolution moving the vote to May 19.

State legislators representing Bainbridge have expressed support for the rule change, but they believe it has little chance of passing in an upcoming session likely dominated by serious economic issues.

While the AWC has expressed interest in Bainbridge’s rule change request, the organization’s 24-member board must first approve its lobbyists’ involvement.

Mayor Darlene Kordonowy said the AWC has experienced lobbyists already roaming the halls of the state capitol, making them a larger and more experienced force than lobbyist hired by the city.

“The (AWC) would also be much better prepared than a single lobbyist,” she said.

Using the AWC would also put the city’s membership dues, which are almost $15,000 a year, to good use, Kordonowy added.

“We take advantage of our membership in small ways, but not as directly as we could on specific items like this,” she said.

Founded in 1933, the AWC is a nonprofit organization representing Washington cities and towns before the Legislature, governor and regulatory agencies. It also provides technical assistance and education to city staff. The AWC’s membership includes all of the state’s 281 cities and towns.