By Debby Woodin
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Joplin city officials are looking into the loss of about $150,000 in revenue in the Public Works Department, according to City Manager Mark Rohr.
Rohr confirmed Wednesday that the city has been investigating shortages in the building division of the Public Works Department. The shortages are related to code enforcement and building permit fees, he said.
That is the basis for Rohr’s announcement Monday that a probe of the department was under way.
He said it does not appear to be a theft, but the Joplin Police Department has been asked to check it out.
“An internal audit in the building division revealed the loss of approximately $150,000 in revenues,” Rohr said in an email responding to Globe questions about the nature of the probe. “This amount includes unbilled items over the past 14 years of code enforcement fees valued at $110,000, and $40,000 of unbilled building permits fees.
“After the preliminary audit, it does not appear that there was any criminal activity, but to be sure, I have asked the Police Department to conduct a criminal investigation into this matter.”
The city also is looking at the performance of employees in the division related to the discrepancy.
“Because this is an ongoing personnel issue, we are unable to give any further details at this time,” Rohr said.
On Monday, Rohr said personnel changes had been made and that others might still be made.
Sam Anselm, assistant city manager, confirmed Monday that he has been assigned as interim director of the Public Works Department. He also confirmed that the department director, David Hertzberg, had been reassigned to a newly created post as manager of the city’s Community Development Block Grant tornado recovery projects.
In a separate incident, a man who worked as a city mechanic in the Public Works Department has been charged with misdemeanor stealing from the city garage.
Joplin police on Monday said a city complaint against Jeramy Jasperson, 38, had been sent to the city prosecutor in connection with the alleged theft.
Rohr said he had earlier requested an investigation into the city garage.
As a result, police stopped Jasperson’s vehicle after he left work at 10:07 p.m. on June 24. Officers reportedly found a case of oil and a bottle of refrigerant in his vehicle.
THE CITY CHARGE against Jeramy Jasperson alleges that property with a value of less than $500 was taken, police said. Jasperson has been fired from his job with the city.