County of Wetaskiwin CAO ready to retire

County of Wetaskiwin CAO ready to retire

CAO Coutney looks to travel, spend time with family

After serving with the County of Wetaskiwin for 35 years Frank Coutney is getting set to retired from his position of chief administrative officer (CAO).

Coutney’s first role with the County of Wetaskiwin was as a financial controller. However, Wetaskiwin was not where he got his start in the municipal service industry, and his interests began to take root long before his first position.

“My dad was a school trustee for 18 years,” said Coutney. Both his older brothers served as town and county councillors.

“At home I’d listen to the politics … I grew up with it,” said Coutney. Growing up in Lac La Biche he was quite involved in his community.

Coutney was a part of the municipal internship program with the County of Barrhead. A few months into the program he was named executive assistant until 1983, at which time Coutney made the move to the County of Wetaskiwin.

There, his position of financial controller included both county and rural school matters, as rural schools were under the jurisdiction of municipalities until 1995.

In ‘85/’86 the title changed to assistant treasurer. “In 1990 I became the county administrator,” said Coutney.

Coutney says he saw the County of Wetaskiwin as an opportunity to move to a larger organization and transition into the area of finance, which he feels is a beneficial background to have when looking to become a CAO.

“Barrhead was a great place to start my career and learn. Coming to Wetaskiwin was a great opportunity,” said Coutney.

Over the years Coutney has seen his position grow and evolve in many ways, from the technology used to the culture of the county.

“When you look at municipal government there’s been a big transformation,” said Coutney; councils change, as does council direction. Ratepayer priorities also change over the years, affecting the decisions and direction of councils and administration.

Coutney says one of his priorities over the years has been to create a positive work culture and to get the right people in the right positions to improve the workplace environment and service.

“Today, if I was going to start over I’d do the same thing. It’s been a rewarding profession to be in because you see how you impact the community in a positive way,” said Coutney.

Coutney says sometimes he is asked what made him stay in Wetaskiwin for so long.

“When I look at the people in the community, I’ve built a lot of friendships. It was a good community to raise my two boys. It was really an open community. I had the opportunity to meet so many people,” said Coutney.

He added, what will stay with him long after he has retired from his position of CAO is how the culture of the organization was changed over the years, as well as the councils and staff. “I think the strengths of this organization has been council direction through strategic planning and the staff.”

“There’s been a lot of success,” said Coutney. Such successes include funds saved by the county when working with the Dried Meat Lake Landfill, relationships made with other government staff at all levels, and grants given to the county — earned through the proposal writing talents of county staff.

“Generally, as a county we followed the direction of council. Would I have changed anything? Because we’ve tried to be proactive, because we’ve tried to be financially responsible. We’ve accomplished a lot of goals. Is there other things you could have done, of course,” said Coutney.

“I think we’ve done a better than average job in providing services,” he added.

Coutney’s last official date with the county is March 31, 2018. However, he will be leaving the organization at the end of this year and using some accumulated holidays to get an early start on retirement.

“I was pretty committed to the organization. Now I want to spend time with family,” said Coutney.

Assistant CAO Rod Hawken will step into Coutney’s role as he retires, and with a new CAO and a new council, Coutney’s advice he would like to leave is: council needs to work together as a team in providing a vision and clear direction to council. “I think the county has the opportunity with Rod to grow and foster. I have a lot of confidence in Rod.”

amelia.naismith@pipestoneflyer.ca

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced 16 additional deaths Thursday. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
No easing of Alberta’s COVID-19 measures Thursday, 678 new COVID-19 cases

The province also hit 1,500 COVID-19 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic

File photo
Leduc RCMP lay charges in theft of catalytic converters

Two males arresed and charged with theft of several catalytic converters.

Black Press file photo
UPDATE: Leduc RCMP on scene of serious collision at intersection of Highway 2A and Highway 616

Both drivers were transported to hospital in serious condition; all lanes of travel now open.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said the Canadian government should consider sanctions on the U.S. if they refuse to reconsider the decision to cancel the Keystone XL Pipeline. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Keystone XL officially cancelled, Kenney vows to fight on

U.S. President Joe Biden cancelled the presidential permit for the pipeline on first day of office

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said province’s test positivity rate for COVID-19 is steadily declining. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
669 new COVID-19 cases in Alberta, 21 additional deaths

COVID-19 test positivity rate down to 4.5 per cent

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette takes the royal salute from the Guard of Honour as she makes her way deliver the the throne speech, Wednesday, September 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Gov. Gen. Julie Payette resigns, apologizes for ‘tensions’ at Rideau Hall

Payette, who is the Queen’s representative in Canada, has been the governor general since 2017

Grounded WestJet Boeing 737 Max aircraft are shown at the airline’s facilities in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, May 7, 2019. WestJet will operate the first commercial Boeing 737 Max flight in Canada today since the aircraft was grounded in 2019 following two deadly crashes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Passengers unfazed as WestJet returns Boeing 737 Max to service on Calgary flight

After a lengthy review process, Transport Canada cleared the plane to return to Canadian airspace

(Photo submitted)
Community Futures brings back Social Media Challenge for 2021

This time the challenge is for non-profits and community groups

Lucas Berg, left, with the backpacks filled with essential items he donated to the Red Deer Mustard Seed Jan. 19, 2021. (Photo submitted)
Central Alberta teenager donates filled 20 backpacks to Red Deer Mustard Seed

Lucas Berg, 14, of Ponoka County says he ‘just wants to help people’

A conveyor belt transports coal at the Westmoreland Coal Co.’s Sheerness mine near Hanna, Alta., on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016. Coal mining impacts are already occurring in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains even as debate intensifies over the industry’s presence in one of the province’s most beloved landscapes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
As Alberta debates coal mining, industry already affecting once-protected Rockies

UCP revoked a policy that had protected eastern slopes of the Rockies from open-pit coal mining since 1976

In this Dec. 18, 2020 photo, pipes to be used for the Keystone XL pipeline are stored in a field near Dorchester, Neb. TC Energy Corp. is planning to eliminate more than 1,000 construction jobs related to its decision to halt work on its Keystone XL pipeline expansion project. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Machian /Omaha World-Herald via AP
TC Energy cutting more than 1,000 Keystone XL construction jobs as Biden pulls permit

Some 200 kilometres of pipe have already been installed for the expansion

Kyla Gibson with her boyfriend Gavin Hardy. (Photo used with permission)
Sylvan Lake couple lose ‘fur babies’ to house fire

‘They were our world and nothing will ever replace them,’ Kyla Gibson said of her three pets

Most Read