More than 1000 striking Mangawhai ratepayers say they are prepared to take legal action against Kaipara District Council over rating issues and the handling of the Mangawhai Community Wastewater Scheme.
Mangawhai Ratepayers and Residents Association (MRRA) has written to Minister of Local Government Chris Tremain and Prime Minister John Key seeking a meeting as a last ditch attempt of avoiding court action. Group spokesman Bruce Rogan said the MRRA has raised significant funds to challenge the legality of the Kaipara District Council's actions.
"We have engaged two of the country's most respected barristers in local government law, Kitt Littlejohn and David Kirkpatrick. On the basis of their advice, MRRA has issued instructions to prepare proceedings against the council," he said.
"It is quite plain the commissioners are not in a position to resolve the issues at Mangawhai. We seek a meeting with the minister to present our view."
He said the MRRA would base its argument on what he says was a failure to comply with sections 84 and 97 of the Local Government Act 2002 before committing the ratepayers to EcoCare; failure to comply with procedures and requirements of the Local Government Act 2002 and Local Government (Rating) Act 2002 in setting rates for every financial year since 1 July 2006, including the current rating year (2012-13).
"Parliament cannot be expected to validate the mess ... We want the minister to front up to ratepayers now, or he'll have to front up in court," said Mr Rogan.
The KDC's commissioners say a bill going to Parliament will address past mistakes.
However, Mangawhai resident and retired barrister Clive Boonham says he is surprised the commissioners have decided to include the current LTP and the current year's rates in the validation bill.
"This is quite incredible because the commissioners have been arguing ... the 2012/22 LTP and the 2012/13 rates are valid, and that they have legal opinions to support their stance," he says.
Commissioner John Robertson said the only reason the LPT and the 2012/13 annual plan (which set this year's rates) were included in the bill was to avoid any further doubt of validity.
"We have a bill going to Parliament that will address the last six year's mistakes. With regards to the questions around the wastewater scheme ... we look forward to the Auditor-General's report and will take our lead from that," he said.By Annette Lambly