The city of Moose Jaw is looking for its next watchdog.
It’s seeking nominations for its administrative review officer (ARO) position, which functions as an arms-length third party that handles citizens’ complaints.
The officer’s job is to act as “a safety valve for citizens who feel they’ve been treated unfairly by the city administration,” said Moose Jaw’s city clerk Myron Gulka-Tiechko.
He likened the ARO’s authority and scope to that of the provincial ombudsman.
The nomination period for the post closes Oct. 30 at 4 p.m.
The new hire will step into the job as mayoral and council candidates in the city are vying for votes: Moose Jaw’s municipal election is to go ahead on Nov. 9.
One of the first tasks the new officer will do, post-election, is review the mayor’s and councillors’ financial disclosure statements to flag any conflicts of interests they may be bringing to their positions, Gulka-Tiechko said.
They’ll also review if and by how much candidates over-spent on their election campaign ads, he said.
The ARO position is a two-year term, appointed by city councillors. The officer is required to hold public hearings, record evidence and submit written decisions to city council for its final decision on whether to pass or decline his/her recommendations in a given case.
A recent example of a complaint handled by the office occurred in 2018: Seven of 33 property owners disputed the amount of money the city charged them for its cast iron water main replacement project.
In his May 2019 report to Moose Jaw city council, ARO Dave Foley recommended a “good will” 10 per cent discount for “all of the property owners affected,” recognizing “both sides in the dispute might have to make some concessions in order to bring the matter to a satisfactory conclusion.”
Based on Foley’s recommendation, property owners were to pay the city $15,485.07 less with the 10 per cent discount applied.
Payment for the position is pro-rated at $322.60 per day, based on the actual time he/she works each day, Gulka-Tiechko said.
Nominations for Moose Jaw’s mayoral and city council candidates are open; they close on Oct. 7 at 4 p.m.
Thus far, incumbent Fraser Tolmie has filed his papers to run for mayor, while Doug Blanc and Jody Chell have filed to run for city council seats, neither of whom are incumbents.
Evan Radford, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Regina Leader-Post, The Leader-Post