HILLSBORO, N.D. — After less than two years on the job, it appears the city auditor in Hillsboro is on his way out the door. The City Commission voted to fire him during a meeting Tuesday, June 23.
It was another contentious City Commission meeting at the community center, and after about an hour of debate, Matt Mutzenberger was told he was no longer welcome at City Hall.
"Because you're setting a precedent at this point of, 'we're going to let class A and B misdemeanors happen with our staff,'" said Commissioner Shawn Skager.
The main issue was that Mutzenberger broke state law last year when he brought a handgun into City Hall claiming he received a threat. Some city leaders were made aware of the situation at the time. Mutzenberger was written up and received counseling, but not from professionals.
The man whom Mutzenberger accused of making the threat showed up to the meeting. He said Mutzenberger repeatedly swore and hung up on him during an argument about a receipt.
"I called back and said do I need to drive up and get a receipt," he said.
Commission Chairman Terry Sando said Mutzenberger learned from his mistake and has done a great job of cleaning up the books. He essentially referred to him as someone who can't be replaced.
"Now you're asking that all that expertise and the way ahead on this paperwork ... it could set us back six months to a year," Sando said.
That didn't sit well with many in the crowd.
"Your idea that he can't be replaced in your head is hogwash. It's ludicrous — the cemetery is full of people who have been replaced," said one attendee of the meeting.
That was the turning point for the commissioners who backed Mutzenberger at last week's hearing.
"I think the public confidence is lost. I don't know how we could keep him on," said Commissioner Dave Sather.
With his wife by his side, Mutzenberger listened as the commission voted 4-1 to remove him from the auditor's office.
After the meeting, Mutzenberger said he is disappointed that this decision was based on hearsay in a public forum and is looking forward to sharing the facts at his due process hearing within the next few weeks.