Dispute costs just keep on growing

The bills are still mounting as a legal battle between the Waimate District Council and Waimate's Keith Williams continues.

The case dates back more than two years and was reviewed by the court registrar in December. No trial date has yet been set after four charges were laid in July last year, when the council took civil action.

Mr Williams was charged with failing to apply for a certificate of acceptance and failing to comply with a notice to fix his commercial garage.

The council then went to court over building permit work on a garage wall but the judge declined to hear the case as the chief executive did not have the delegated authority to lay charges.

A breakdown in legal costs then revealed a $56,840 bill for ratepayers and the latest unbudgeted expenditure report shows the council paid about $52,000 of that between September and December last year.

Mr Williams is seeking costs from the council, which could push the bill as high as $150,000 if the council loses.

His solicitor, Rick Farr, did not return calls after The Herald left messages for him.

Waimate Mayor John Coles said there had been no outcome and did not know when the matter was going back to court.

"It's got to go back to the judge; I don't know when. There have been considerable costs, which nobody likes, but there is a time when you have to defend your position; hopefully a decision comes sooner than later."

The Herald revealed in August last year that the matter could have been settled with a Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment $287 determination. That determination has not been finalised.

Had that course been followed the decision would have been binding on both parties.

Meanwhile, the council has recorded a deficit of $722,000 for the six months to December 31, $293,000 more than the $429,000 budgeted deficit.

The increase was caused largely by the NZ Transport roading subsidy being $207,000 below budget. It was planned to have all resealing completed by the end of December, but it is only 35 per cent complete.

The revaluations of buildings and infrastructural assets were larger than anticipated, with the variance expected to reach $240,000 at the end of the financial year. And consultants cost $75,000, against a budget of $38,000.

The Timaru Herald