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Wendy Reuer, Published September 25 2013

West Fargo public works director fired

WEST FARGO – The longtime public works director here has been fired.

West Fargo Mayor Rich Mattern said Wednesday the city ended Barry Johnson’s tenure with the city on Monday afternoon.

Mattern said the city attorney has advised him not to comment on the specific reasons for Johnson’s firing, but said the city is considering restructuring the public works department.

“(City Administrator) Jim Brownlee is looking at some different options to how we might want to restructure that whole department, what direction they want to head,” Mattern said. “As a growing city, we have more employees and growing demands, maybe now is the time to restructure.”

When reached at his home Wednesday, Johnson said he has "no idea" why he was let go.

“I was sitting at my desk at 3 o’clock Monday afternoon, and they came in and said ‘We’re making management changes. Time to find another place to go,’ ” he said.

Johnson worked for the city for nearly 20 years.

His salary was about $111,000 a year.

Mattern said Johnson has 10 days to appeal the termination to the City Commission.

Brownlee said Johnson will have until Oct. 3 to appeal, but he will receive his full salary and benefits until Oct. 7.

Johnson said he did not yet know if he will appeal the termination.

“So I'm evaluating my options right now,” he said.

Assistant Public Works Director Chris Brungardt will oversee the department until a decision about its structure is made, Mattern said.

The city’s Public Works Department administers city services such as sanitation/recycling, excavation, snow removal, forestry, storm water management and the sump pump program.

Forum Reporter Erik Burgess contributed to this report.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530