A city councillor who used to be one of Mayor Sam Katz's closest allies has quit executive policy committee.
St. James-Brooklands Coun. Scott Fielding told Mayor Sam Katz Friday he has quit EPC in advance of the annual organizational meeting of council, to be held in November.
Fielding said he quit because of another pending property-tax increase and poor management of city issues.
"Taxpayers deserve more than this. On the heels of unprecedented mismanagement I cannot take the easy way out and ask taxpayers to bail us out of this mess with a tax increase," he said in a statement shortly before noon Friday.
Fielding told reporters shortly afterward he could not support the draft version of the 2014 municipal budget, which calls for property-tax increases above the one-per-cent hike that will be dedicated to infrastructure renewal.
Mayor Sam Katz refused to confirm the additional hike. He thanked Fielding for his service but pointed out the councillor has moved from St. James to Linden Woods and thus no longer lives in his ward. Fielding also promised to observe a two-term limit when he first ran for council in 2006, Katz pointed out.
Fielding does not plan to run for his council seat in 2014 but has said he is considering a run for mayor and may also pursue provincial politics as Progressive Conservative or federal politics as a Conservative. He said he will discuss the idea of running for mayor with his wife and family.
Katz said he is not concerned about a head-to-head race against his former ally. The mayor also said no one should read anything into Fielding’s departure from EPC.
Katz said he has not considered resigning as mayor before the end of his term and brushed off questions regarding whether anyone else on council wants to sit on EPC following the revelations of severe mismanagement of Winnipeg’s fire-paramedic station replacement program, the Winnipeg police headquarters conversion and other major projects.
A scathing review of the fire-paramedic station construction project, released on Monday, found severe mismanagement and favouritism. A broader audit of major City of Winnipeg real-estate transactions is expected within the next few months.
Fielding denied he quit EPC simply to distance himself from Katz.
"I don't know how viable Sam is as a candidate anymore, to be quite honest with you," Fielding said.