Rates mistakes targeted

By Annette Lambly


Kaipara District Council will seek a parliamentary solution to resolve the district's historical rating errors.

At a recent meeting, commissioners agreed a local bill was the best option in dealing with all the irregularities "once and for all".

They were clear, however, that a local bill would not hinder possible legal action by the council over matters around the 2006 extension of the Mangawhai Community Wastewater Scheme.

The auditor-general's office is investigating the scheme with a report due next year. Commissioners will consider the report with urgency and have not yet discounted legal action against those involved.

Commissioner Peter Winder said the community had understandable concerns over the the scheme's extension. "The bill is not validating this ... opportunities for redress are important."

Between 2006 and 2012, the council made a number of errors when setting rates, involving more than $17 million of revenue. While a local bill would validate the incorrect rates, where services had been provided, by fixing technical deficiencies the bill would also include specific actions to address issues around the Mangawhai targeted rate.

Chairman John Robertson said the bill would allow the community to have their concerns heard through a submission and hearings process. It would "highlight past mistakes and open past decisions up to full public scrutiny" and would be an "open and transparent process for all". It is anticipated the bill will be completed by February with Northland MP Mike Sabin agreeing to present it to Parliament.

Commissioners hope the public hearings will be held in the Kaipara District.

Maungaturoto resident Peter Bull, who was present at the meeting, said he supported a local bill because clauses would provide for redress of any identified inequities and would not validate past decisions to increases the scheme.

Meanwhile, striking Kaipara ratepayers questioning the legality of the rates and backed by the Mangawhai Ratepayers and Residents' Association have raised about $45,000 towards seeking the High Court to have the council's rating decision reversed.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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