Legal dispute may cost Council $30k

By Anna Ferrick of Hawke's Bay Today -
The legal dispute over the purchase of a domain in Waimarama may cost the ratepayers thousands. Photo / Thinkstock
The legal dispute over the purchase of a domain in Waimarama may cost the ratepayers thousands. Photo / Thinkstock

Legal action brought against the Hastings District Council by a disgruntled resident may end up costing ratepayers an estimated $30,000.

Janis Tacon, a Waimarama resident, had taken legal action against the council following the purchase of the domain neighbouring her home.

The domain was bought by the council for a sum of $1.17 million in 2011, with $360,000 of the total cost to be met by 18 adjacent home owners.

Mrs Tacon was the only resident who disputed her $23,000 share but had her case rejected in the High Court at Napier by Justice Edwin Wylie on Tuesday. Her lawyer, Bill Calver, said Mrs Tacon genuinely felt the targeted rate was wrong and was brave to stick by her views.

Hastings District Council Chief Executive Ross McLeod said the council was forced to defend the case in order to protect the overall funding arrangement for the purchase of the domain, even though the amount in dispute is less than the estimated cost of the defence.

Had the court ruled in Mrs Tacon's favour the council may have been forced to review the $360,000 that was the total of the targeted rates set upon adjacent home owners.

Mr McLeod said the council will be seeking to recover a significant portion of the costs involved in the defence from Mrs Tacon.

"We are currently in discussion on this issue with Mrs Tacon's lawyer. She will be offered the same arrangements for the payment of the targeted rate as has been offered to other landowners, either a lump sum payment of $23,000 or paid over 10 years."

Mr Calver said both he and Mrs Tacon were disappointed by the outcome and said the case was always going to be David vs. Goliath. "She was a voice in the wilderness ..." he said.

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