Karen Coté, DOF, Invermere
Karen Coté’s entire 28-year career has been with the District of Invermere
Fresh out of Selkirk College in her hometown of Castlegar, B.C., Karen Coté was hired in 1988 as clerk/steno/cashier/receptionist for the District of Invermere. About 10 years later she had worked her way through positions in finance all the way to being the department’s deputy director. She advanced to the director of finance position in 2004.
We got a little better acquainted with Coté as she answered our questions.
What’s something interesting about you that not many people know?
I was blessed with the most unusual gift-in-disguise 15 years ago, and that was the birth of my special needs son. He has taught me so much over the years about myself and my hidden strengths. He has taught me the power of love, compassion and advocacy, as well as to live each day with purpose and to be in the present moment. I volunteer as treasurer for Special Olympics BC - Invermere and I am a board member of the society that runs Mount Nelson Place, which provides services to individuals with developmental disabilities within the Columbia Valley.
What’s the main strength you bring to your job?
Consistency, honesty, corporate memory and a deep dedication to my employer and the amazing community I live in. I am passionate about local government, budgeting and the value of the taxpayer dollar. Although I have worked here (some may argue) for an eternity, I always tell people that I love my job, and I truly do.
What advice would you have for new mayors and councils?
That local government is complex and to take the time to learn the various functions and services that it provides. I actually love budget time with a brand new council, and going line by line through the budget, if necessary, so that they truly understand all of the services that local governments provide, with the limited revenue that we have to work with.
What’s on your work agenda for 2017?
One of my biggest priorities will be to incorporate our new infrastructure priority plan into the long-term financial plan of the District. A huge challenge for all B.C. municipalities is how to fund the increasing infrastructure deficit. Councils of the future will have some tough decisions to make to address the staggering gap between the cost to replace core infrastructure and reserves.
I’m also very excited that our new $9.7-million, 17,000-square-foot multi-use facility, the Columbia Valley Centre, will be opening in 2017. The community has been absolutely outstanding in helping to fundraise for this facility.
What’s your definition of success?
Success to me is having the respect of the taxpayers, the staff and council and to be valued as an integral member of our amazing municipal team.