13 May 2012

Mangawhai ratepayers warn of rates revolt

6:34 am on 13 May 2012

A Mangawhai ratepayers group is predicting a town-wide rates revolt if the Kaipara District Council does not lower planned rates demands.

At least 2000 people marched through the Northland town on Saturday in protest at the increase.

The council is proposing an average rate rise of 31% to pay debts of more than $80 million. More than $50 million of that is due to cost blow-outs in the Mangawhai wastewater scheme.

Mangawhai Ratepayers and Residents Association chairman Bruce Rogan says more than half the town may be prepared to not pay their rates in protest at the increases.

"I see possibly a thousand or even 1500 people refusing to pay rates, which will probably have the effect of bringing the council to its knees financially. And then I see probably the necessity of court action to get the council stopped in its tracks."

Mr Rogan says residents are considering their options.

"We have been asked by a number of people if we would provide a repository where people could put their rates and we could tell the council, 'Look we've got this million dollars in a repository that you can have as soon as you've come to your senses - but you've got to do the following things before you get it'".

Bruce Rogan says councillors and the former chief executive should be held responsible for accruing the debt.

But deputy mayor Julie Geange says the council is still considering how best to reduce the debt and if residents have better ideas about how to pay it, they should put them in writing.

"None of what is in the plan is set in concrete. We do have to address the debt, but there are options. If the public has other suggestions, then come to us. Tell us what you think are better, more affordable, (and an) easier way of doing it is."

Submissions on the council's long-term plan close on 30 May.