Rates fury but bills on the way

By Mike Barrington

The commissioners now governing the Kaipara district were "rocked back on their heels" when warned the Mangawhai rates strike could go district-wide.

The commissioners - John Robertson (chairman), Richard Booth, Colin Dale and Peter Winder - met eight Mangawhai Ratepayers and Residents' Association officials at the home of association president Bruce Rogan on Monday.

The association's team was told that the former Kaipara District Council's adoption of the 2012-22 Long Term Plan provided a place for the commissioners to start solving the council's organisation and financial problems.

"We [the association officials] said the LTP was illegal, unenforceable and would cause disruption to the lives of people who could not afford to pay the big rates increases proposed in the plan," Mr Rogan said.

"We warned the commissioners that using the LTP could see the the rates strike go Kaipara-wide. That rocked them back on their heels a bit."

Gazetted terms of reference from Local Government Minister David Carter direct the commissioners to enforce the payment of 2012/13 rates and any unpaid rates from previous years. They were also told to work with the Kaipara community and ratepayers and Internal Affairs to identify options for dealing with invalidly set rates and other legal compliance matters.

In an open letter issued to Kaipara residents and ratepayers on Tuesday, Mr Robertson advised ratepayers they would soon be getting a bill for 2012-13 rates.

Ratepayers would be consulted if commissioners considered the LTP needed amending.

Mr Robertson told the Advocate that the commissioners had taken the view the previous council had resolved issues relating to the late delivery of the LTP and the commissioners believed rates could be struck off it.

He said taking legal action to recover funds from consultants and others some ratepayers held responsible for Kaipara's financial crisis would not be considered before the Auditor General had completed an inquiry into Kaipara's affairs.

"We don't believe [a controlled bankruptcy is] an option. It's unheard of to appoint a receiver in local government. We have to work through this with the community."

- Northern Advocate

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