Brainerd building official to retire, continue working as needed

The city entered into a phased retirement option agreement with Chuck Arvidson, meaning he will continue performing inspections for state-level building projects in the city until the city can find someone else with the necessary certification.

Brainerd City Council members discuss matters during their meeting Monday, Feb. 3, at the Crow Wing County Historic Courthouse. Theresa Bourke/ Brainerd Dispatch

Chuck Arvidson, building official for the city of Brainerd, is set to retire in March but will continue intermittent work for the city because of specialized certification no other employees have.

Arvidson has worked for the city since 2005 and began serving as building official in March 2019.

His retirement leaves the city without a building inspector who holds a Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry delegation agreement for inspection, which allows the city to issue permits and conduct inspections for building projects overseen by the state of Minnesota. These projects include public schools, hospitals and other state institutions. Right now, the city is overseeing two Brainerd Public Schools projects at Harrison Elementary School and Brainerd High School, with several others planned for the coming years.

If the city does not have someone with this delegation, the department of labor and industry will take over management of all current state level projects and cut the city out of all future state level projects, while charging the city for its services. This could result in a severe hit to the city’s budget, as at least $150,000 in planned permit revenue would not be realized, along with any revenue that would be received through future projects.

In response to that issue, the city council approved a phased retirement option agreement with Arvidson during its meeting Monday, Feb. 3. Arvidson will essentially be retired but will still hold the city’s department of labor and industry designation, performing associated duties as needed.


Under the agreement, Arvidson will continue to conduct inspections for state projects at an hourly rate of $125. He is expected to work up to 10 hours a week until May 2 or until a new building official is in place. He will be considered retired and will not be eligible for any city benefits. City staff and the city attorney will work with Arvidson on an agreement for travel time compensation.

As the state of Minnesota requires municipalities to appoint a qualified building official within 15 days of the position becoming vacant in order to issue permits, building inspector Darrin Deseth will serve as interim building official. If a building official is not appointed, the state would use its own employees to perform the duties at the cost of the city.

Arvidson’s retirement also creates a significant vacancy in the building department, as he conducted 1,452 building inspections in 2019. His absence would mean about an additional 726 hours of work spread across the city’s two other inspectors.

The council directed staff Monday to begin discussions with union representatives about what to do with the position in the future. The city could either hire a new building official or find someone to hold the department of labor and industry designation until Deseth is ready to be certified, which will likely be about two years.

In other business Monday, the council:

Accepted the resignation of Officer Zachary Gowens from the Brainerd Police Department, effective Jan. 21.

This resignation creates the fourth vacancy in the police department, with another expected in the near future with an upcoming retirement. The city’s civil service commission met earlier Monday and certified the top three candidates on the new police officer eligibility list. The police department is in the process of conducting pre-employment screening for those three candidates.

Authorized staff to hire a mechanic in the maintenance department beginning around Nov. 15. To cover the salary, the council also authorized staff to change the state aid maintenance allocation to 25% (instead of $1,500 per mile) in 2021 and to transfer funds from the construction fund to the street and sewer fund on a yearly basis.


Approved a change order for the Garfield Safe Routes to School project for $23,383.80. The change order covers hydrant and storm sewer adjustments that had to be made. The project is still under budget.

Authorized the final payment of $15,673.09 to Crow Wing County for the 2019 road striping project.

Approved an easement agreement with Brainerd Public Schools for sanitary sewer at Harrison Elementary School. The sanitary sewer will be moved for the building’s addition, and the city needs to maintain an easement to perform any necessary maintenance.

Agreed to negotiate with Crow Wing County on the turnback of County State Aid Highway 20 from county control to city control. The council agreed to turn over possession of the road to the city after the upcoming reconstruction project on the road and offered to cover the city’s construction portion of the project and add in money to repave the road in the future. The city would then be responsible for future maintenance. The council agreed to counter the offer and also ask for the county to pay half the city’s engineering costs for the project as well.

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at .

Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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