A long-running investigation into pay rises given to senior Caerphilly County Borough Council officers – which has cost taxpayers more than £4 million – could be drawing to a close after six years.
The dispute involving chief executive Anthony O’Sullivan, who remains on special paid leave, will be concluded by the end of September.
But concerns were raised about the authority agreeing to pay an extra £31,000 towards his salary without consulting councillors.
One councillor said he would be willing to resign if the investigation surpassed the deadline expected by council leader Dave Poole.
Cllr Poole said: “It is important that due process is now followed to bring matters to a conclusion.”
Mr O’Sullivan was suspended from work in March 2013 following claims relating to pay rises given to senior council officers, including himself.
After criminal charges were dropped in 2015, his deputy Nigel Barnett, and head of legal services Daniel Perkins, agreed to pay-outs worth nearly £300,000 between them.
But no such agreement has been reached between the council and Mr O’Sullivan.
An internal committee is still considering the findings of the probe, which was carried out by a designated independent person (DIP) assigned by the Welsh Government.
Caerphilly Council has funded the investigation, with members approving a further £242,000 to cover costs – and Mr O’Sullivan’s salary – until July 31 this year.
But while money was available to cover legal fees for another two months, Cllr Poole said an extra salary payment to Mr O’Sullivan was needed.
He added: “It’s not something I enjoy bringing here but this is the figure we’ve got to use to bring this to a conclusion.”
Delegated powers afforded to the council through its constitution allowed the further payment to be approved without approval of full council.
The decision was heavily criticised by opposition councillors after members were able to vote on the previously approved six-figure payment in December.
Independent Cllr Kevin Etheridge said: “I find that very concerning, and I believe that this £31,000 should have come before full council for debate.”
When asked by Independent Cllr Nigel Dix why the payment was not brought before council, Cllr Poole said there was still uncertainty around how long the DIP’s investigation would take.
Cllr Colin Mann, leader of the Plaid Cymru group, said the DIP had “grossly overrun” the March 2019 completion date suggested to councillors and that “recompense” should be claimed back.
Cllr Poole said: “I’m surprised that people are critical of me keeping you informed.”
With no clear date for the investigation’s conclusion, Plaid Cymru Cllr Lindsay Whittle said he would continue to be “pestered” by constituents about when it would end.
He said: “Would I suggest that if it doesn’t end by September, we should all resign, and go back to the people and let them decide whether they want this council to carry on or not?”