Humboldt Mending City Finances, Airport Land Offered

HUMBOLDT – Humboldt Mayor Bob Mendenhall says he will respect the citizens’ decision if a petition drive to halt the sale of the airport land is successful, but says proceeds from the sale would provide relief for a city budget crunch.

Mendenhall: “My main concern is that when we took over we had to do a lot of things to try and bring our finances into line.”

Mendenhall, who started his term in December, said the city struggled to meet payroll at the end of the year, when payments on a street project are due. He said debt on a water well project and new fire station also stretch the resources of a city of 800 people.

Mendenhall: “The finances of the city are very poor. The finances being the way they were – we could not pay the bills that we owe, for example, in December or January. We were basically broke. So what I proceeded in doing was we had to look at various different assets that we own.”

He said the sale of the farmland that was set up in the 1940s for an airport, would pay down the fire house bonds and free up a $50,000 bank CD.

The city council is also considering a plan to re-arrange payments on the street bonds, to avoid a large annual amount due at the end of the year.

Dan James of Humboldt organized a petition to stop the airport land from being auctioned. Based on the general election voters, 97 signatures are needed. James said he had 166 signatures, but the county clerk would have to check the signatures to see how many are valid.

In other action, the city council voted to a 2-2 tie on a motion to combine the city clerk and city treasurer position.

Mayor Mendenhall broke the tie with a vote in favor of consolidating the position. There was discussion about the council’s passage of the resolution without waiving the statutory requirement of three readings.

The city’s clerk was fired and the city treasurer announced her resignation effective March 12. The planning commission secretary also resigned.

Mendenhall said he wanted the issue of consolidating the positions resolved, so he can proceed with advertising to fill the clerk-treasurer position.

Councilman Dustin White questioned the city’s legal fees, saying charges by February are as high as they were all of last year.