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Joplin Planning Department Looks To Separate from Public Works Department

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 The Joplin City Council considers some re-organization in city government. After changes to the Joplin Public Works Department caused some setbacks, officials are looking to fix the problem. City council members will discuss how to make the city structure more traditional  -- and that means separating one division into its own department.

"This is the direction that the community needs to take in order to provide a higher level of service." says Public Works Director, Nick Heatherly.

Heatherly believes positive changes could be coming to the department if a proposed ordinance to allow the planning department to become its own stand alone department in the city.

"There is a close interaction between the two, functions, but from a who do I go to kind of perspective it helps the business community goes to a planning department. Here they go to the public works department." Joplin Interim City Manager, Sam Anselm explains.

The idea came after last year's reorganization within the department caused some backups with work when the idea came to move the engineering department under the planning department.

"We wanted to kind of un-do some of that and go back to having within public works, having an operations division, having an engineering division, but then this planning piece which had always been kind of the third leg of our public works, we saw an opportunity to kind of take that out of public works entirely and then let public works staff focus solely on operations and engineering." Anselm says.

"All your streets, your storm water, your sanitary sewer systems, these are the core responsibilities of a public works department. Making sure that those assets of the community are well maintained." Heatherly tells us.

Both public works and the planning department will work together on major projects, and city officials say that the move will result in better service to residents and business.

"They shouldn't see any difference in the level of service, if anything they might see improvement in certain aspects." Heatherly says.

If the ordinance is approved by the council this evening, the second reading be at the October 20th meeting.

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