SOME city councillors are dismayed Winnipeg’s well-respected city assessor is leaving his post to take on the same role for the City of Calgary.
Assessment and taxation director Nelson Karpa has told the City of Winnipeg he intends to retire. He served as department director since November 2006 and worked for the city for a total of 22 years.
"He’s done a fabulous job here," chief administrative officer Phil Sheegl said Tuesday.
During his time as the city’s top taxman, Karpa oversaw a transition in which the city sped up the property assessment cycle from once every five years to once every two years. He also implemented Mayor Sam Katz’s directives to cut and later freeze the city’s pool of business-tax revenue, drastically pare down the entertainment tax and bring in a new accommodation tax.
Karpa took the reins of his department at a time when Riverside Park Management, a non-profit organization that listed Katz as president, was fighting the city over the assessment of Parcel Four, a surface parking lot it used to lease from the city and sublet to the Winnipeg Goldeyes.
Karpa’s initial five-year contract ended in 2011 and was extended one year, Sheegl said. The city assessor gave his notice to his employees on Monday.
On Tuesday, the City of Calgary announced Karpa will direct assessment for Canada’s fourth-largest city. Calgary’s website said he obtained a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Manitoba and also lectures at the U of M.
"This is a very significant loss for the city. He’s made some significant improvements along the way," said Charleswood-Tuxedo Coun. Paula Havixbeck, who described Karpa as a model director.
"It’s really unfortunate to lose someone of his stature," added Fort Rouge Coun. Jenny Gerbasi.
"He’s a person of integrity. I hope our political and administrative environment can attract someone who is also highly ethical and has similar qualities."
Karpa declined to say why he is leaving Winnipeg.
"I enjoyed my time with the city. I wish everyone well. I’m going in another direction," he said.
Sheegl said Karpa can take advantage of a city pension while he works at a new job. This makes it tough for the city to retain quality senior staff, said council property chairman Jeff Browaty (North Kildonan).
"With our very generous retirement options, sometimes it’s beneficial to take retirement and pursue options elsewhere," Browaty said.
Karpa’s last day is Jan. 4.