Sarnia’s integrity commissioner will keep his job with the city for at least another year.
Council agreed to extend the contract of Robert Swayze until March 1 of 2019, when the role and responsibilities of integrity commissioners will change in Ontario.
“We’ve decided we want to have one, and he’s the logical choice,” said Coun. Matt Mitro, who backed the decision in a 6-3 vote.
Swayze was paid $19,208 by city taxpayers last year, including a $3,000 retainer and services he provided at a billing rate of $280 an hour.
Swayze received and investigated four complaints, including three about council members accused of breaching the city’s code of conduct by making disparaging comments at meetings.
He also investigated a member of council accused of disclosing a confidential document to police, and determined the document was already in the public domain.
Since being hired in 2015, Swayze has been paid $112,000, which includes $82,000 to investigate allegations Mayor Mike Bradley harassed and intimidated senior managers.
Bradley was censured and twice had his pay suspended by council.
“We’re talking about the integrity commissioner being well used,” said Coun. Mike Kelch, who joined Bradley and Coun. Dave Boushy in voting against the contract extension.
“I think success for us would be the day when it’s never used.”
Ontario is expanding the role of integrity commissioners next year to include the authority to investigate municipal conflict of interest complaints.
Also, all municipalities will be required to have an integrity commissioner, as well as a code of conduct.
City CAO Margaret Misek-Evans said the concept of having all municipalities in Lambton use one integrity commissioner and code of conduct has been discussed.
Likewise, Bradley said he intends to request a staff report on the issue when county council meets in Wyoming on April 4.
Lambton County has its own integrity commissioner, as do three of 11 member municipalities: Sarnia, Petrolia and Lambton Shores.