As most readers of eudorareporter.com know by now, City Administrator John Harrenstein tenured his resignation at the City Commission meeting on Monday night.
While some have said that Harrenstein was bad for this city and “good riddance”, I’m going to beg to differ.
I have spent the last two and half years covering the actions of the City and City Council in depth. I have been extremely fortunate to have access to information provided to the City Council and the inner workings of the city due to my job as reporter and editor. I have also spent an untold number of hours observing Harrenstein and the department heads of our fine city doing the tasks of their jobs. John Harrenstein has been nothing but upfront and professional with me. He has answered every question I have thrown at him that he can legally answer. I have observed him follow through on his duties and seen some him deal with some extraordinary situations. He has handled those with diligence, persistence and excellence. There have been times when he has been criticized for things that were out of his control and he sat there, took it and didn’t pass the buck onto others.
Many people have praised “the city” for cleaning up the water over the last year or so. While the City Council deserves credit for requesting the city do something about it, Harrenstein, along with Public Works Director Mike Hutto, went out and found the solution and did it with minimal costs to the taxpayers. This was a problem that could have been solved years ago and never was by past Councils and administrations. I cannot speak as to why these solutions were never carried out, but the point is that they weren’t. These two gentlemen fixed it.
The financial picture of Eudora was not great when Harrenstein came. Some with credible inside knowledge of the city, described it as “a mess”. With the assistance of wise financial people, he cleaned up the mess and put the city in a position where they have not had to raise tax rates significantly. Bond renegotiations and fund balances are not very sexy in print and we don’t often report on those changes, but they are important to the overall fiscal well being of Eudora. Just this week, the City Commission approved a refunding of the bonds from 2006 that helped build the Rec Center. This refunding will allow the City of Eudora to free up $30,000 a year and save the taxpayers nearly $360,000. Harrenstein and the financial gurus the city works with, just saved us a great deal of money. While the nation has dealt with the worst economy since the Great Depression and governments are drowning in debt and even declaring bankruptcy, the financial wizards on Wall Street think highly of Eudora. For those that are into Bond ratings, Eudora received “AA” interest rates with an “A” rating. “AAA” is the highest (and best) anyone can have. We are sitting in a much better financial position than many other cities and governments mainly because of Harrenstein’s work.
Harrenstein never wanted praise for his actions either. When something was done right or fixed, it was due to the hard work of a staffer or the Council. He never would take credit for the good things he has done.
People may disagree with how he handled some situations. I have not witnessed every conversation or been a fly on the fall for every meeting and in five different places at once (as much as I would love to). What I have witnessed with my own eyes, is that this city is much better off than it was a few years ago and we should thank John Harrenstein for that. He may not have been perfect in every situation, and there may have been times when situations were not handled the best. I can guarantee that everyone reading this article (and it goes for me as well), is as guilty of the same types of mistakes.
The 2013 City Commission is about to be tasked with the most important decision of their political careers: Find a new City Administrator that will meet or exceed the excellent work that John Harrenstein did for Eudora.
Our loss is definitely a gain for North Mankato, MN.
– John Schulz
The views expressed in this editorial are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the staff or advertisers of Eudorareporter.com.