City council has reappointed Saundra Arberry for another two-year term as the municipality’s administrative review officer (ARO), a position that has not received any public complaints in five years.
Council unanimously approved Arberry’s reappointment during the Jan. 23 regular meeting. Her term commences immediately and concludes Dec. 31, 2024. This extension builds on her initial hiring and two-year appointment in February 2021.
Arberry was the only person to apply for the job.
The City of Moose Jaw created an independent review body in 2003 to investigate public complaints about the city’s administration, while a later council confirmed that it still had an interest in continuing with the administrative review process, a council report explained.
The ARO is required to be independent of city administration and reports directly to city council. The position operates similarly to an ombudsman, giving complainants an avenue to provide concerns about issues they believe are poorly managed.
“This process is followed when there are no other forms of appeal open to a complainant and is an excellent opportunity for customers to have their concerns adjudicated by an independent third party,” city manager Jim Puffalt said.
Arberry is the deputy registrar with the provincial Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists and has worked there since its inception in 2015. In 2011, she moved to Regina to work as an electoral management consultant for Elections Saskatchewan, after spending more than 20 years in the Northwest Territories’ (NWT) court system and then as its chief electoral officer.
“It should be noted that past AROs were typically Moose Jaw residents. Although Ms. Arberry resides in Regina, this is an asset as she will not have personal connections to Moose Jaw residents or city administration,” a council report said.
For the work done, the ARO is paid a daily remuneration that is two times the daily per diem rate that city council members receive, the report added. Since the current per diem rate is $161.30 per day, Arberry would receive $322.60 for her work.
City hall didn’t pay Arberry much in 2022 for her work, considering she received zero external public complaints. In fact, from 2019 to 2022, zero complainants have brought forward concerns.
The last time there were complaints was in 2018, when there were two issues: one by a resident and another by the city.
“The city seeks to provide exceptional customer service and spends considerable time and effort to resolve all complaints,” another council report said.
“When the city cannot resolve a complaint and believes that it has administered its bylaws, policies and regulations correctly, it will refer the complaint to the administrative review officer for an external review as an additional check on the system.”
The next regular city council meeting is Monday, Feb. 13.