Former world cup cricketer Warren Stott is aghast at facing a 1343 per cent rates rise.
Stott is one of thousands rebelling against record hikes proposed by the Kaipara District Council.
He speaks for the Riverside Holiday Park, on the outskirts of Mangawhai, where last weekend more than 2500 people rallied against the increases. Many have already stopped paying rates, and the council faces five weeks of escalating dissent after pamphlets and protest signs went out this week.
Stott, who lives at the holiday park, was staggered to receive a letter from the council estimating a rise to $84,850 from $6316 last year. "It is insane," Stott said. "I'd be amazed if anyone has ever had such a mind-boggling rates rise in New Zealand before.
"If these increases go ahead it would decimate not just this business but the whole town."
Stott, who played for New Zealand at the 1979 Cricket World Cup, said any extra costs would be passed on to the 95 or so shareholders with properties at the site.
He expects many will attempt to sell up. "A lot of people believe Mangawhai will turn into a ghost town if the council gets its way."
Kaipara Mayor Neil Tiller wants to almost halve the district's debt of $82.5 million by 2022. Much of the debt stems from cost blowouts from a controversial Mangawhai wastewater scheme, which at last count totalled $60 million.
The council has proposed an average rates rise of 31 per cent. But many residents are shocked to discover they may pay a lot more than that. Locals paint a doomsday picture of falling property values, boarded-up shops and an exodus of people who won't be able to afford to live in the quiet coastal town.
Retired lawyer Clive Boonham expects rates for his one-bedroom beachfront bach with a sleepout to climb from $4978 to $10,074. "There are plenty of other people who will get even steeper rises than that," Boonham said.
"The council's financial mismanagement over a number of years has been breathtaking. I fear that people on pensions and other fixed incomes simply won't be able to afford to live in the area any longer."
Pensioner Dallas Toye, 88, and his wife Pauline, 85, expect their rates to more than double to over $4000 a year for their three-bedroom bungalow.
The couple have withheld paying rates for several months and fully back the protesters.
"I have always been very law-abiding but this rebellion is all rather exciting," Pauline said.
A ratepayers' group has accused the council of acting illegally while it carried out Mangawhai's wastewater scheme. In response, the council has asked the Auditor-General to investigate.
David Carter, Minister of Local Government, said he was monitoring the situation.
He told the Herald on Sunday: "I am well aware of the concerns raised about the Kaipara District Council. The council has reported to me ... and my officials are now reviewing this before reporting back, both on the council's response and ... the proposed rate increase."
Carter added: "I do not want to intervene in a way that hinders or duplicates the Auditor-General's inquiry."By Russell Blackstock Email Russell