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Oxford Economic Development Director Effectively Resigns

Herman Schuler tells town to end his contract on Friday.

Oxford's economic development director will no longer have a contract with the town after Friday.

That's because asked the Board of Selectmen to have his contracted agreement date with the town reduced from the original day of June 30, 2012, to Nov. 18, 2011, or Friday, two days from today, outgoing First Selectman Mary Ann Drayton-Rogers confirmed in an email late Tuesday. Drayton-Rogers said the board "regrettably obliged" Schuler's request during a meeting with town counsel on Tuesday, meaning Schuler will likely cease being an employee of the town on Friday unless the new political administration, which has been critical of Schuler, asks him to stay.

Schuler is widely considered an effective economic development director. In the time that he's been in the position, about five years, the town's Industrial/Commercial Grand List has grown to $223.7 million, up $110.6 million, or 97 percent, over Fiscal Year 2006-07, the town's Economic Development Commission has said in status reports. That translates into tax revenue and jobs. For example: 

  • 16 percent of every tax dollar in Oxford now comes from Industrial/Commercial, up from 8.9 percent in FY 2006-07;
  • Industrial/Commercial tax receipts are now $5.1 million, up $3 million, or 130 percent, over FY 2006-07;
  • In-town employment is up 873 jobs, or 49 percent, since 2000.
  • , the most recent statistics available, Oxford gained the most jobs of any town in the Valley Region, which also includes Waterbury, Naugatuck, Cheshire, Watertown, Southbury, Wolcott, Woodbury, Prospect, Thomaston, Middlebury, Beacon Falls and Bethlehem. (The study was conducted by the Council of Governments of the Central Naugatuck Valley, or COGNV, which relied on state Department of Labor statistics to determine its findings.)

Despite this apparent success, First Selectman-elect George Temple, a Republican, throughout his recent political campaign. Temple said one of his main goals is to change the course of economic development in Oxford.

Although Temple never said he would like to get rid of Schuler, his words hinted at the idea. Temple's Democratic opponents say he did not like Schuler for personal reasons mostly involving Schuler's strained relationship with former First Selectman Auggie Palmer, who helped Temple run his campaign.

Temple also aligned himself with the political action committee "Keep Oxford Green," which is against high-density, affordable housing developments, the basic idea of which Schuler supports. "Keep Oxford Green" and Schuler have had a longstanding and public feud.  

"(Temple) was told that the deck was cleared for him to determine how he wanted to proceed with economic development in Oxford," Drayton-Rogers, a Democrat and Schuler supporter who did not seek re-election stated in an email to Oxford Patch late Tuesday.

Because the news broke late on Tuesday, Drayton-Rogers could not immediately be reached for follow up questions; she said she'd be available this morning. And neither Schuler nor Temple could immediately be reached late Tuesday.

Editor's Notes: Oxford Patch plans to follow up on this story. Like many people in the community, Schuler writes a blog for Oxford Patch; he is an unpaid contributing blogger.   

TK November 16, 2011 at 11:34 AM
Herman, thank you for everything you did here in Oxford. As a resident yourself, you attracted business and brought in needed revenue to help offload some of the burden from taxpayers. It is unfortunate that Mr. Temple and KOG has now placed Oxford in a position where Economic Development is going to stop and be turned over, at some point in time, to a "Marketing Company" who has no background or experience with us. Unless of course Mr. Temple hires someone from within his campaign to run Economic Development, such as KOG. I think because of Mr. Temple's actions, Economic Development in Oxford is going to take a big hit, our Mil Rate over the next couple of years is going to increase dramatically. Somehow, just like the BOE tried, I bet Mr. Temple and his "group" will try to blame "past administrations" for the rising taxes instead of Mr. Temple's bad business decisions, such as this "Marketing Firm." We will be watching very closely!
MyGoodPeople November 16, 2011 at 12:20 PM
Mr. Schuler was a huge asset to the Town of Oxford. He was instrumental in the the increase of businesses in Oxford, which as we all know helps to keep taxes down. I will be interested in whom gets the new contract. They certainly will have some big shoes to fill. I wish you well in whatever you do Mr. Schuler.
Ed Rowland November 16, 2011 at 12:36 PM
Good luck Mr.Schuler.You did a good job for the taxpayers of Oxford.Thankyou.
Kenn Maher November 16, 2011 at 12:47 PM
Herman, thank you. Kenn Maher
MOM November 16, 2011 at 12:54 PM
Thank you for all you've done for this Town, Mr. Schuler. Like "TK" said, "you attracted business and brought in needed revenue to help offload some of the burden from taxpayers. Economic Development will take a bit hit" with your resignation.
xxxoxox November 16, 2011 at 01:21 PM
Thank you for your service to the town Mr. Schuler. It is clear to most that very good work has been done under your tenure. Best wishes in your future endeavors and I hope that you forever draw comfort and satisfaction from your contribution to our community.
George November 16, 2011 at 02:17 PM
Typical of politicians - try to fix something that is not broken
kathy johnson November 16, 2011 at 02:37 PM
Herman thank you for serving our town and advancing economic development in Oxford. It was obvious that you were very passionate about your job and always had Oxford and the tax payer in your heart. We did not always agree on some issues but I know you did your job and you did it well. Bravo! Best of luck. Always, Kathy
Ed Spruck November 16, 2011 at 03:27 PM
Hermann, your record speaks volumes for you. You have set a high bar for those who follow you. Hopefully, it will inspire them to surpass your performance, which will benefit all of us. Thanks for your efforts.
Jennifer November 16, 2011 at 03:29 PM
This is indeed, sad news for Oxford. Thank you, Mr. Schuler, for all you've done to bring sound econdomic development to this town.
Amy Carlone Cote November 16, 2011 at 04:40 PM
Thank you Mr. Shuler for the fantastic work you have done to promote Oxford to businesses of all sizes. You hard work and dedication will be missed.
Sue Martovich November 16, 2011 at 07:23 PM
Mr Schuler, I am sorry to see you go. As a business owner here in town I appreciate the effort put forth in bringing Oxford prosperity and success. Mr Temple, you do have very big shoes to fill. As the saying goes don't fix something that's not broken. We had momentum and now it will be disrupted. As I have learned in managing people, "Performance" and "Results" are two key factors in retaining employment and Mr. Schuler had both. There is no dispute on that. An important element in a good business leader is to have qualified, driven people underneath you. Personal judgement and holding grudges can hinder the success any company. Mr. Temple, you will have a lot to prove, unraveling an effective strategy, especially under the economic conditions we now face.
BnB November 16, 2011 at 08:25 PM
Very interesting! Leaves this position open for Augie Palmer.
Oxford for Truth November 16, 2011 at 08:50 PM
We will see Mr. Schuler back as George Temple will be a one termer for sure.
kathy johnson November 16, 2011 at 10:02 PM
If George appoints Mr Palmer to any town position he will certainly be a one term Selectman and also ruin any chances of bringing about the togetherness he promised the citizens of Oxford.
Coach Carb November 17, 2011 at 12:23 PM
With or without the valuable contributions of Herman Schuler, economic developement in Oxford will explode under the Temple Administration. It is George Temple's passion and expertise. Expanding the tax base is the only way to pay for needed road and school repairs without raising taxes. Economic development is George Temple's top priority. This will be done without spoiling the rural character of Oxford.
Oxford for Truth November 17, 2011 at 01:12 PM
Carb, Get real. Temple has no expertise. One term for Temple.
kathy johnson November 17, 2011 at 01:51 PM
Lets tell the truth about economic development. It will be here when when the developers are good and ready to build this is driven by the population and the economy. I envy the administration that happens to land in town hall when this happens. That is what happened in Shelton with Mayor Lorretti. He was in the right place at the right time when the route 8 corridor was booming.
Ed Rowland November 18, 2011 at 12:37 AM
Kathy,You bring up several good points about economic development.Timing is everything.The ideas that are in the pipeline may not be seen for a few years.A developer has an idea,then needs to get land use approvals which could take 6 months to a year.Once a developer gets approvals he can move forward with the project or sell the property which happens a lot.There are so many variables.There is no genie in a lamp for economic development.The next EDD will need to be very connected to have any real impact.Explosive growth will not happen overnight.Effective planning and filling vacant buildings is very important.Overall Herman did a good job for Oxford inspite of the economy.We shall see what the future holds.
MIchael Macchio November 18, 2011 at 02:00 AM
So many Palmer haters out there, yet he was the most successful First Selectman when it came to Economic Development. Mr. Temple won the election and deserves to select who he feels is best for Oxford in the many positions (he appoints) that serve the town. The voters made that choice last week, but we see where personal attacks are already in the works by the opposition.
MIchael Macchio November 18, 2011 at 02:11 AM
Oxford for lies: you get real (like a real name perhaps?). If you stay tuned you will see Temple moving the yardsticks on economic development.
xxxoxox November 18, 2011 at 11:50 AM
For everyone that has ever read Doris Kearns Goodwin's book TEAM OF RIVALS, Mr. Temple might be well-served to follow President Lincoln's example. Mr. Schuler has been in the job and knows the lay of the land better than anyone. Consideration of a re-appointment is a worthwhile endeavor. That being said, since he hasn't even been sworn in yet, his "put-up" moment is yet to come.
kathy johnson November 18, 2011 at 03:19 PM
Ed I agree Herman did a great job considering what he was up against. As far as vacant buildings are concerned even if they are empty the landlord still has to pay the property tax so the town does not really loose any money the landlord does.
kathy johnson November 18, 2011 at 03:20 PM
Steve I agree Mr Temple should hire Mr Schuler.
J November 18, 2011 at 10:04 PM
Sue, you say "don't fix something that's not broken. We had momentum and now it will be disrupted" all addressed towards Mr. Temple. If I read the article correctly, Mr Schuler ASKED to step down effective, Friday, Nov 18th. The article also reads, "Temple never said he would get rid of Schuler." How is this a black mark on the political record of George Temple before he even steps foot in office? Rather than assuming George will not have a viable economic plan, give him an opportunity to prove himself to this community!
xxxoxox November 18, 2011 at 10:51 PM
J is right. Let's see what happens. The election is over and Mr. Schuler stepped down in an honorable way. If Mr. Temple wishes to go in a different direction, it was right to give him the opportunity to start fresh and avoid the necessity of directly letting him go. It certainly sounded like Mr Schuler left the door open in terms of being willing to serve again if that was the new administration's decision. There is no real fight to be had here and no bad guy. I think that this is a class way to handle things.
Pinch Hitter November 18, 2011 at 11:30 PM
Mr. Temple made it pretty clear and has said it to many people, he wants to bring in a Marketing company and leave the marketing of Oxford to an outside firm. Does that sound like a plan that will benefit Oxford, no way, I guarantee it! Its now time for Mr. Temple to show us what he thinks he can do!
NEW GOP November 19, 2011 at 12:14 AM
J-you're 100% correct. @Pinch I've been on the patch for several months now and I haven't seen anything positive come out from you!! Let Temple have a chance to get in office first. By the way all your predicitons about the election were all WRONG!!!! Stephen good luck with the BOE. I look forward to a different tone at the meetings.
Janis Hardy November 21, 2011 at 02:03 PM
Herman, you were an asset to the economic development prospects for this Town. I know you worked long and hard on many, many projects that are still winding their way through all the State's many bureaucracies, and you have forged many good working relationships with these offices. It is my hope that these initiatives do not fall through the cracks! Good luck and have fun breaking in your aircraft's new engine!
Peter Bunzl November 25, 2011 at 09:57 PM
I am was sorry to see our town loose someone with Herman’s knowledge, expertise and dedication. Mr. Schuler has given Oxford a great amount attention. He has spent countless hours, sometimes on his own time, pursuing business’s that might want to establish or relocate themselves in Oxford’s business and industrial areas. These difficult economic times have made his job even tougher. I have met Herman several times in town and after exchanging pleasantries his focus has always turned to a discussion about what Oxford can and should do attract a greater tax base. It is rare to find someone so committed to such a single minded purpose of serving our town faithfully and with such diligence. That kind of devotedness will be sorely missed. The incoming First Selectman is free to choose someone to serve as Oxford’s Economic Director. I hope that whoever he chooses will be able to match Herman Schuler’s attributes, drive and motivation.

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