A retired Mangawhai ratepayer who faces losing his house unless he comes up with $115,000 by Friday says he has had enough of a 10-year battle that has cost him his health.
Bruce Rogan, 74, has spent a decade battling over the Mangawhai ecocare sewerage reticulation scheme in a journey that reached New Zealand's Supreme Court.
He said the stress of battling what was originally illegal rating of ratepayers for the Mangawhai scheme's ballooning costs has affected his health – he now has bowel cancer.
Rogan, Mangawhai Residents and Ratepayers Association chairman, is among about 100 ratepayers who have spent at least a decade in long-running legal argument, fighting paying Kaipara District Council (KDC) rates towards the Mangawhai ecocare sewerage scheme's huge cost overruns above initial estimates.
The Supreme Court ruled in favour of KDC.
The council has told Rogan and his wife Heather, 74, they have until May 22 to pay $115,000 in Supreme Court-ordered costs - which include penalties for unpaid rates in the long-running battle.
"The Supreme Court has ordered that the Rogans pay costs, it's very clear," KDC mayor Jason Smith said.
"Then there are processes within the Ratings Act by which councils can get money to pay debts if people don't pay."
Smith would not be drawn on whether this would force the sale of Rogan's house.
"The Rogans have a court ordered debt, it's up to them how they pay it," Smith said.
Rogan said his home would be sold if he did not come up with the money.
He last year paid $40,000 in outstanding rates, unpaid on his property as part of the long-running Mangawhai Residents and Ratepayers Association-led scheme cost blowout battle that turned into a rates strike.
He said the couple would potentially have to sell their Mangawhai Heads home and downsize because of the $115,000.
They built their Mangawhai estuary-side house in 2010 as the place to call home in retirement; evolving from purchasing the property and its "pretty dungery old bach" for family holidays 17 years earlier.
"Paying the $115,000 will make a hell of a dent in the retirement savings we worked so hard over 40 years to put together," Rogan said.
He said KDC had however waived interest charges.
The Mangawhai Residents and Ratepayers Association and a Givealittle page have so far raised about $20,000 towards these costs.
The Friday payment deadline potentially brings to a close the final chapter in a complex legal case involving KDC and Northland Regional Council which was decided by Supreme Court.
Rogan took his fight through the courts on behalf of the about 100 Mangawhai ratepayers who had fought the rating battle. They had contributed $500,000 towards legal costs.
Smith said the Friday payment would mark the end of a long-running story.
"This is a very sad story. All elected members of Kaipara District Council will be pleased when this chapter is concluded finally and the Rogans pay their debts to the council," Smith said.
Mangawhai ratepayers were initially told the final ecocare sewerage scheme would cost no more than $10.8 million when it was first announced in 2003, then $37 million in 2009 and up to more than $60 million by 2013.
The scheme's resulting financial burden on KDC led to the Government appointing commissioners to run the council, in what became New Zealand's longest-ever commissioners' tenure.
The Mangawhai Residents and Ratepayers Association exposed illegalities around the way rates were collected toward the scheme's ballooning costs, which the Government in December 2013 responded to by putting in place legislation to legally validate their collection.