The Manitoba Ombudsman office investigated 29 complaints from the public about actions and decisions of municipal politicians last year, according to its newly released 2011 report.
Common themes in the complaints relate to perceived conflicts of interest, councils making decisions “in camera” (behind closed doors), and not giving reasons for decisions, the report said.
Councils are always advised to be up front about their decision-making, said Mel Holley, acting Manitoba ombudsman.
People attending council meetings should also be told what matter is being considered by council and what options are available as they make a decision, Holley said.
“That way people know and are being told up front that this is the basis for what council is doing,” he said.
Of the 29 complaints to the ombudsman regarding decisions of town, village and RM councils, nine were found unsupportable. Two have been resolved, while the remainder are either still under investigation or have been withdrawn.
Holley said the number of complaints are trending slightly upward.
“I see complaints that are more fractious, more difficult,” he said. “Municipal government is under more scrutiny.”