20 Aug 2014
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Oxford Economic Development Director Effectively Resigns

Herman Schuler tells town to end his contract on Friday.

Oxford Economic Development Director Effectively Resigns

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.   

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