Parliament may clear up rating errors

By Annette Lambly

Kaipara District Council commissioners are likely to seek a parliamentary solution to resolving historical rating errors.

Chairman John Robertson said he believed a local bill was the best option to sort out what was a "dog's breakfast of procedural and technical failings".

The recommendation for the council to pursue a local bill is outlined in a formal report to be discussed by the commissioners, at its meeting next week.

The series of procedural or technical errors in setting rates between 2006-2012, involved rating revenue of more than $17 million. The errors, coupled with large rate hikes, raised the ire of a large group of ratepayers, who have refused to pay their rates for the 2012/13 year.

Mr Robertson said: "The services the rates paid for were still supplied. However, the fact is that mistakes were made and they need to be addressed in a way that is fair, provides certainty and resolves the issues once and for all. Until we do that, Kaipara can't move on."

Council lawyers have identified largely procedural or technical errors in multiple rating processes. Errors included setting rates inconsistent with financial impact statements and failing to provide sufficient information on rating assessment notices. The legal report says that, in some instances, the errors caused "notable inequity" between ratepayers.

Mr Robertson said a local bill would "shine a light" on past mistakes and open past decisions up to full public scrutiny. Should a bill proceed to select committee stage, he hoped public hearings would be held in the Kaipara district.

"Local people deserve to know what went on, and deserve to have their say in front of parliamentarians."

A local bill would not hinder possible council legal action over matters around the Mangawhai Community Wastewater Scheme extension.

- Northern Advocate

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