Pursuit of $300 fine costs council $8500
The Christchurch City Council has spent more than $8500 in legal costs trying to recover a $300 fine from a man who refused to walk his dogs with leashes.
It took Cashmere retiree Michael Stringer to court in October last year after he refused to pay a $300 fine for walking his elderly dogs through Victoria Park without leads.
Figures released to The Press under the Official Information Act reveal the case cost the council $8251 in legal expenses, plus an extra $500 in related staffing costs.
The Christchurch District Court ordered Stringer to pay a fine and costs totalling $455, which he finished paying this week.
Stringer's 14-year-old labrador Honey had to be put down earlier this year, and 13-year-old German Shepherd Kazairl had not been back to Victoria Park recently.
Stringer said the council had taken the case personally, and he felt the outcome was "predetermined".
Spending more than $8500 to recover a $300 fine was ridiculous, he said. "That's the rates for four Cashmere houses."
Council governance principal adviser Peter Mitchell said $8251 spent on Stringer's case covered 41 hours of work by an external solicitor. Another $500 was spent on staff costs, including 10 hours of investigative work by three staff and court appearances for one officer, while another $200 went on three hours of preparatory work by a team leader.
Mitchell said the council was unable to provide information on how much it had spent on legal costs to recover other unpaid fines. The council was owed $4.9 million in unpaid parking infringements and $111,120 in unpaid animal control infringements, he said.
Council inspections and enforcement manager Anne Columbus said Victoria Park was a popular recreational area and had been deemed a leashed dog area.
Stringer had received multiple infringement notices for walking his dogs without leashes in Victoria Park and had wanted to defend his choice after receiving the last fine, she said.
$1,671,181 worth of parking fines collected by the city council over the last nine months
$3284 worth of animal control fines collected over the last nine months
$4.9 million owed for parking infringements
$111,120 owed for animal control infringements
Source: Christchurch City Council