County of Wetaskiwin passes changes prompted by review

Suggestions from ‘service capacity review’ approved by County of Wetaskiwin council

County of Wetaskiwin council approved certain suggestions made in a special report called the “service capacity review” during their regular council meeting Oct. 22.

The “service capacity review” was a months-long process that was the result of concerns voiced in council meetings about the municipality’s operations, and whether or not those operations were efficient and effective.

County CAO Rod Hawken noted in the agenda memo, “At the October 10, 2019 meeting, Transitional Solutions presented their draft report for the Service Capacity Review and reviewed the recommendations with Council.” Councilors unanimously accepted the final report.

The consultant felt that the municipality is responsible with its finances. “The County is in a strong financial position while operating a tight ship with well-funded services,” the report stated on page 8.

However, the service capacity review final report included 63 various recommendations from the consultant that addressed efficiencies or issues. Councilor Josh Bishop said he felt some of these should be addressed immediately. “Some of these need to be dealt with right away,” said Bishop. Councilor Lyle Seely agreed.

During discussion, it was noted that, in effect, recommendations 1 and 2 had already been addressed; the hiring of an outside facilitator to examine strategic and tactical planning for the two remaining years of this council’s term, and streamline the council meeting agenda process.

Recommendation 5 stated that council meeting minutes should include only the results of votes. It was noted that this is also being implemented. Councilors approved this.

Recommendation 9 suggested councilors use a “consent agenda” to speed up meetings; this includes approving regular reports in one motion. Councilors approved this.

Recommendation 12 stated the county should conduct an organizational structure review before any more hiring. See below.

Recommendation 19 suggested a human resources person be hired to handle HR responsibilities. Council approved sending this to the budget sessions.

Recommendation 31 stated the county should review its contract with West Central Planning services and potentially ask other firms to present on how they would handle this work. Council approved this.

Recommendation 50 was to clarify the role and responsibilities of the assistant director of Public Works. Council approved this.

Councilor Kathy Rooyakkers noted it would be nice to have updates on how these points were proceeding, and Hawken noted that would be done.

Hawken later clarified on Oct. 24 a few points for The Pipestone Flyer.

He said strategic planning is council’s vision, mission, goals and pillars. The tactical plan is how administration will achieve those four things; council still approves this plan.

The organizational structure review will ensure the county has the right staff with the right skills in the right position.

Hawken noted one key recommendation is for staff to use formalized workplans; Hawken said the county in the past may not have used these and instead just got the work done through long-term employees.

Hawken clarified the suggestion about West Central Planning Agency; he said the county has a list of services it contracts out to WCPS and the consultant suggested making sure the municipality is getting all the services its paying for.

Hawken said the review didn’t contain anything surprising or shocking and shows the County of Wetaskiwin is a strong, vibrant, well-run organization that has benefitted from the forward-thinking of councilors past and present.

Readers curious about the entire final report can read it online on the county’s website at this address: https://www.county.wetaskiwin.ab.ca/DocumentCenter/View/2986/Wetaskiwin-Service-Capacity-Report-FINAL

Councilors unanimously voted that Council implement a hiring freeze on vacant positions and grid movement for management staff until the Organization Structure Review is complete.

Councilors also voted 5-1 that Council engage Transitional Solutions Inc. to complete an Organizational Structure Review prior to budget; at a cost of $6,000 plus expenses and GST.

Stu.salkeld@pipestoneflyer.ca

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