John Harrenstein

As most readers of 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 

Print Friendly

2 Responses to Editorial: John Harrenstein

  • John, i must say that John H has done a few things good.
    I must also add some things to this.
    The water issues.
    The problem was not fixable in the past, due to the system that was in place. Our past GOOD admin Cheryl B had a new system installed that was able to updated to what we now have and gets the ick out of the water. This was not from John H coming in and saving the day. This was Cheryl B and John Schowalter putting in the new system years ago and it just happens after getting it paid for John H was on board to see the next stage completed.
    John H also got us in debt with the new Police/Fire building that is a total waste of tax dollars as we all know.
    John H also is NOT business friendly at all.
    Past city admins have been involved with every business in town, this guy John H has basicly nothing to do with them. I have friends who own and operate 3 businesses in this city and not one visit from John H to check in and see how Eudoras business people are doing , nor what can Eudora do for them.
    Downtown Grant money. Well John H has given it to NON DOWNTOWN businesses and as a result , some downtown businesses have failed or not been able to go to that next level and bring in MUCH needed tax dollars. It was given by the state to help downtown business districts , not outlying areas.
    So in all , i say John H is a great guy for MN , but not Eudora. This is only my look at John H , and may differ from yours.

  • John has done an excellent job cleaning up the personnel and budget mess left by the previous administrator and moving the city forward. Business friendly? He’s been a great supporter of businesses in this town. I can attest to that personally. The hard truth is, if you are counting on the government (local, state, federal) to make the difference in your business succeeding, it’s probably in trouble already. The “downtown” grant money NEEDED to be spread to all businesses in Eudora. If you haven’t noticed, most of the businesses in this community are just north and south of k-10, not downtown – why shouldn’t they be able to benefit from the grant money? John’s administration has provided a transition from the divisive, ineffecient previous administrator and laid a solid foundation for the future of Eudora. We’ve been lucky to have him. Hopefully the council can do as good a job hiring this time.