Ratepayers face a court showdown with council

Mangawhai ratepayers are targeting a showdown in court with the Kaipara District Council.

Ratepayers across the Kaipara District, but particularly in Mangawhai, have refused to pay rates they deem to be illegal.

The Mangawhai Residents and Ratepayers Association has already made a formal complaint to police about the rates. And association president Bruce Rogan says a number of council decisions need to be judicially reviewed, because the commissioners acting on behalf of council will not review them themselves, "which they have every right and power to do".

Mr Rogan says the association has determined a strategy for the court date. They have selected the matters to place in front of the court, and are finalising representation arrangements. He says they are not seeking to have damages awarded to themselves or anyone else.

"We know that if a court awarded damages in an action against a council it would be the poor old ratepayer, again, who gets penalised.

"Our objective is to have it made public just how far out of control this local government organisation is, and how impossible it is to fix the problems by simply clobbering ratepayers with enormous rates increases."

A KDC letter to ratepayers last month admitted "a number of procedural or technical errors were made between 2006 and 2012".

Kaipara commissioners expect a local bill to sort out illegal district rates will be introduced to Parliament in March or April.

● Meanwhile, residents are further refuting KDC's claims that they are winning the battle with rates strikers. A council press release quoted figures suggesting that more Kaipara ratepayers were paying up.

Residents association member Helen Curreen says evidence points the other way.

"Such a big increase, I wonder if somebody has made a mistake."

Rodney Times