Striking Northland ratepayers have received a legal opinion saying the Kaipara District Council had no right to make substantial increases in rates because it failed to consult its community.
The legal opinion, prepared for the Mangawhai Residents and Ratepayers Association by barrister Kitt Littlejohn, said the council "adopted a completely different [and previously unsignalled] financial strategy to deal with its significant debt levels at the 11th hour in an attempt to quell widespread criticism of the lack of information, poor financial management and scale of proposed rates increase". In doing so, said Mr Littlejohn, the council increased the total cost of the debt to the district and its ratepayers for much longer.
Mr Littlejohn said he believed the council had no power to make such significant changes without consulting first with ratepayers, as required by law.
About 1100 Kaipara residents are refusing to pay an estimated $2.2 million of rates in protest at the council's $79 million debt, which they say was run up without their consent.
The strike began in the coastal resort of Mangawhai over a $58 million cost blowout for a sewerage treatment plant but has since spread around the district.