Milford City Manager announces resignation as of Dec. 31

After nearly four years of service to the city of Milford, City Manager Eric Norenberg will resign as of Dec. 31 this year, according to an email forwarded to the Delaware State News from Mr. Norenberg.

Milford Mayor Archie Campbell said the city will begin the process of searching for a new city manager soon.

“We are going in a different direction than Eric is,” Mayor Campbell said. “And council, quite a few of the people on council are new, and just feel like the direction he’s going in is not the same direction we want to go.”

Councilmember Lisa Ingram Peel made a similar comment, noting, “What was in the letter basically explains the reasoning for the rationale. While we made great progress, there’s a diversion of decisions.”

Mr. Norenberg came to Milford following a national search for city manager candidates that included a pool of more than 90 candidates. He previously worked for the city of Oberlin in Ohio for eight years.

Milford City Manager Eric Norenberg’s resignation letter as it was forwarded to the Delaware State News by Mr. Norenberg:

Dear Coworkers,

It has been an honor to have served as Milford’s City Manager for nearly four years.  During that time, many things have been accomplished.  The recent resident survey indicated increased confidence in City Government during my watch, that our customer service is rated highly and there is a strong sense that the government is acting in the best interests of Milford and treating residents fairly. 

During my tenure, we put the safety of residents and employees first as we instituted an employee safety committee, regular safety and HR training for employees, and a reward and recognition committee, added vision coverage for employees, and began a drug testing program to ensure the safety of the public and employees.  In addition, the rental inspection program was fully activated to ensure our tenants are living in safe, secure homes.

To fulfill my commitment to accountability and stewardship, we initiated and/or oversaw updating and modernization of many policies and practices, including the City’s Charter and the personnel handbook, as well as instituting new policies and procedures. 

We have strengthened our commitment to responsive customer service, initiated cost of service studies for each of our utilities to ensure fair rate structure and stable funding for each utility, developed core values for our workforce during the strategic planning process and made utility infrastructure improvements to support the development of the new Bayhealth hospital and other residential and commercial development, while improving consumer safety.

Planning the future for a community you can be proud of, we developed the City’s first Strategic Plan utilizing resident survey data and community meetings to engage the community in the process and we secured the Downtown Development District designation to aid in the revitalization of Milford’s residential and commercial core, obtained an Opportunity Zone designation to spur investment in a key section of our downtown and to jumpstart reinvestment in an older industrial area, and ensured the update of the Comprehensive Plan with community and stakeholder input.

To improve the efficiency of City operations, we implemented automated side-loading refuse/recycling collection, energy efficiency programs, an automated meter infrastructure (AMI) system, and began updates of City Codes (including, sign code, personnel, land use, building and others).

We addressed deficiencies in the collection of back taxes and fees owed to the City by property-owners by changing rules/procedures and aggressively pursuing delinquent accounts leading to the collection of $387,000 out of nearly $500,000 in delinquent taxes in first 18 months through a combination of payment plans and monitions sales. 

We continued and expanded support for downtown development, and improved amenities and special events leading to Milford being recognized as a top tourism destination in central Delaware with the 2018 Village of the Year award by Kent County Tourism.  The Milford Ladybug Music Festival was named the 2018 Best New Event by Southern Delaware Tourism. 

Additionally, we have made great strides to fulfill the strategic plan goal of Respect for Diversity and Equity.  In recent years, our workforce has become more representative of the community we serve and we implemented a bilingual compensation program.  City improvements in equity and inclusion have been recognized by the Human Rights Campaign’s annual Municipal Equity index as well.  Milford’s score on that index has improved by nearly 44 percent since 2016. 

Finally, I have proudly served my profession through various activities with the City Management Association of Delaware (CMAD) and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA).  As just one example, by supporting Local Government Management Fellows at the City of Milford, you and I are assisting in growing and developing future local government professionals here in Delaware

Recently, it has become apparent that the Milford City Council has a vision for the future that differs from mine and I respect that.  It is one of the important hallmarks of the Council-Manager form of government, that the City Council sets the vision and policy for the community and the City Manager administers the City, carrying out those policies.  Accordingly, earlier this evening tendered my resignation, effective December 31, 2019.  The Mayor and City Council accepted. 

The City has a great team of coworkers serving the community with dedication and pride each and every day.  I wish each of you all well and thank you for the privilege of working with you. 

Sincerely,  Eric

Reach staff writer Jennifer Antonik at jantonik@newszap.com

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