by Terry Rogers
On Tuesday, November 12, Milford City Manager, Eric Norenberg, submitted a letter of resignation to City Council and it was accepted. Norenberg took over City Manager duties after the resignation of Hans Medlarz in 2015.
“It has been an honor to have served as Milford’s City Manager for nearly four years,” Norenberg said in his resignation letter. “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.”
Norenberg’s letter went on to provide insight into what had been accomplished in Milford since he took the City Manager position. He pointed out that the City had put the safety of residents and employees first as we instituted an employee safety committee, regular safety and HR training for employees as well as a reward and recognition committee. The City added vision coverage for employees and implemented a drug testing program to ensure the safety of the public and the employees.
“In addition, the rental inspection program was fully activated to ensure our tenants are living in safe, secure homes,” Norenberg wrote. “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 as well as other residential and commercial development all while improving consumer safety.”
Other positive aspects of his tenure noted by Norenberg were the development of the first strategic plan, use of resident survey data and community meetings to engage the public a well as the securing of the Downtown Development District in order to revitalize Milford’s residential and commercial core. In addition, the City obtained an Opportunity Zone designation to spur investment in a key section of downtown and updated the Comprehensive Plan with community and stakeholder input. While City Manager, efficiency of City operations improved with automated side-loading refuse/recycling collection, energy efficiency programs, automated meter systems and updates to City code to include signs, personnel, land use, building and more.
“We continued and expanded support for downtown development and improved amenities and special events leading to Milford being recognized as a top tourist destination in central Delaware with the 2108 Village of the Year award by Kent County Tourism,” Norenberg continued in his letter. “The Milford Ladybug 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 Right’s Campaign’s annual Municipal Equity index as well. Milford’s score on that index has improved by nearly 44 percent since 2016.” Norenberg also listed several professional memberships that had assisted him in his position as City Manager.
He concluded the letter by stating that it had become apparent that City Council has a vision for Milford that differs from Norenberg’s, something he respected. He explained that one of the important hallmarks of the Council-Manager form of government is that City Council sets the vision and policy for the community while the City Manager administers the City, carrying out the policies set by Council.
“The City has a great team of coworkers serving the community with dedication and pride each and every day,” Norenberg concluded. “I wish each of you all well and thank you for the privilege of working with you.
Norenberg came to Milford from Oberlin, Ohio, after Milford City Council conducted a nationwide search to replace Medlarz. While with Oberlin, the city earned many regional, state and national wards and recognitions. Norenberg also served as Oberlin’s City Treasurer. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Political Science from Heidelberg University in Tifflin, Ohio, a Master of Public Policy from the Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan and he is an ICMA Credentialed Manager.
Mayor Archie Campbell praised Norenberg for the work he had done as City Manager, stating that Council feels it is time to move in a different direction than Norenberg but that he wished him well in his future endeavors.
At this time, Norenberg does not have plans for what he will do after he finishes his tenure as City Manager on December 31, 2019. He and his wife, Kaye, plan to remain in Milford for now, possibly traveling some until they decide their next step. The City of Milford will begin the process of searching for Norenberg’s replacement in the next few weeks, hoping to have a candidate selected in early 2020.