Rates rebels plan to withhold up to $300,000 a month from a local council in protest at a proposed 31 per cent hike.

The rise was revealed last week in the Kaipara District Council's draft long-term plan. Kaipara mayor Neil Tiller wants to almost halve the district's current debt of $82.5 million in the next decade.

Bruce Rogan, chairman of the Mangawhai Residents and Ratepayers' Association, told the Herald on Sunday more than 150 people attended a community meeting about the crisis last Sunday. He said most had vowed to immediately stop paying rates.

"Quite a number of our members have already stopped paying in protest at these rises and many more indicated they will not be paying the next instalment, which is due next month," Rogan said. "We estimate that this will mean non-payment of between $200,000 and $300,000 per month, and that is going to hit the council hard.

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"Some of our members expect more than a 100 per cent jump in rates charges and that is just crazy. They are writing to the council to outline their reasons for refusing to pay these outrageous sums."

Rogan added: "Sadly, civil disobedience looks like it will be the only way to bring this council to account."

Kaipara District Council chief executive Steve Ruru has defended the proposed charges. He insisted a controversial Mangawhai sewerage scheme went over budget and had to be paid for.

The council's corporate services manager, Barbara Ware, said the council was aware the residents and ratepayers' association had met last week and that withholding rates payments had been discussed.

"We would be disappointed if this were to occur and see it as premature for people to be adopting this position at this stage of the process," Ware said. "Council is still in a consultation process and is seeking feedback from the community on the range of options outlined in the draft long term plan."

See Letters to the Editor, p46