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Brainerd council fires building official Tim Caughey

After a closed session Monday, Oct. 29, the Brainerd City Council opened their special meeting and voted to terminate building official Tim Caughey. Though Caughey was not named during the open portion of the meeting, City Administrator Cassandra...

Brainerd City Hall as seen after dark Friday, Nov. 2. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch
Brainerd City Hall as seen after dark Friday, Nov. 2. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

After a closed session Monday, Oct. 29, the Brainerd City Council opened their special meeting and voted to terminate building official Tim Caughey.

Though Caughey was not named during the open portion of the meeting, City Administrator Cassandra Torstenson provided the letter of termination to the Brainerd Dispatch.

According to the letter, signed by Torstenson, Caughey-a 32-year at-will city employee-was terminated after violating city policies related to conflicts of interest, the city's use of technology and insubordination.

The letter said Caughey used knowledge gained from his position as a city employee to purchase and then sell a piece of property to a developer at a profit, which violates Policy 5 of the city of Brainerd, stating an employee must not use their position or city resources for personal gain or advantage.

The letter went on to say Caughey admittedly used city time-about an hour per week in June, July and August-and his city computer to perform tasks related to the sale of the property. City policy prohibits the use of city resources for personal gain or advantage and the use of city computers and equipment for personal business interests and for-profit ventures.

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Lastly, the letter stated Caughey continued to use a city-owned computer to facilitate the personal sale of his property despite being told by the city administrator not to do so, which means he violated a directive given by a superior, resulting in insubordination.

The letter said Caughey had until the end of the business day Tuesday, Oct. 30, to turn in all city property, including electronic equipment and data of any sort. He was also directed to refrain from accessing all city data and computer systems, including data and systems related to inspections and building plans.

The city council unanimously voted to terminate Caughey during the open meeting making a pointed effort to not include his name in the motion on advice of legal counsel. Council member Dave Pritschet was absent as he reported not receiving the email of the special meeting notification. After he was brought up to speed on the issue, Pritschet said over the phone Friday that good people, unfortunately, sometimes make poor decisions.

Reached by phone Friday, council members Sue Hilgart, Gabe Johnson, Kevin Stunek and Jan Lambert declined to comment, referring questions to the city administrator. At city hall Friday, Torstenson referred further comments to City Attorney Joseph Langel, who did not respond to two calls made to him Friday afternoon. The city then provided the letter notifying Caughey of the termination late Friday.

Caughey was hired as an engineer tech with the city on Oct. 27, 1986. He was appointed acting building official March 27, 1995, and appointed as city building official May 1, 1995.

The city council's agenda for Monday, Nov. 5, includes the designation of Chuck Arvidson as the city's interim building official.

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Related Topics: TECHNOLOGY
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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