Public Utilities already filling vacancies

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 13, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Two months after cleaning house in the public utilities’ customer service office, the city is beginning to rebuild staffing within the department.

Three of the eight vacancies – all created after the city’s recent investigation into missing and mishandled public funding – have been filled, said Dennis R. Craff, the city’s communications director. One of those employees is particularly qualified, having come to Suffolk from a private utility.

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Staff members from the Hampton Roads Sanitation District are temporarily filling in, Craff said. The city’s assistant director of finance has stepped in to temporarily supervise the department, he said.

&uot;We’ve got some top talent helping us through the process,&uot; said Craff.

Also, the department is developing new procedures and policies on its handling of public money, he added.

Meanwhile, the city is keeping mum on details of the investigation, including the amount of money that was missing.

City Manager R. Steven Herbert said the city’s administrative investigation is complete and that the matter has been turned over to Commonwealth’s Attorney C. Phillips Ferguson for a criminal investigation.

Ferguson said no criminal charges have been filed to date. Otherwise, he refused to comment on the situation.

The city’s investigation came about after city officials noticed the improper money accounting procedures during the department’s recent move into new offices on Holland Road, Herbert said. The department handles incoming money from the city’s water and sewer customers.