23 Jan 2018

Rates rebel vows to fight

7:29 pm on 23 January 2018

A self-described 'whistleblower' is vowing to fight a court order which could force the sale of her Auckland home to cover more than 10 years of unpaid rates.

In January 2016, Auckland District Court ordered Penny Bright to pay Auckland Council more than $34,000 in outstanding rates and penalties.

After an unsuccessful appeal, the council was awarded total costs of more than $20,000 in costs.

The council now wants to force the sale of Ms Bright's inner-city home to recover the costs, but she is adamant that won't happen.

"Absolutely not, I mean we've been down this path twice before and I've still got my house.

"I think there will now be a lot more people who get what I'm saying is perfectly fair enough."

Ms Bright said her rates omissions were a protest against what she said was a lack of transparency from the Auckland City Council.

"For the last ten years the books have not been open regarding full and accurate records of contracts with private sector consultants and contractors, and that is in breach of the New Zealand Public Records Act 2005, section 17, which has been the law for over 12 years."

Ms Bright does still access services paid through rates, including waste collection and libraries.

She said her stance was a 'one-woman rates revolt'.

But Auckland councillor Dick Quax said he disagreed that there was a lack of transparency within the council and believed Ms Bright should pay her rates like every other Aucklander.

"You have the right to protest but there are consequences for that and clearly the consequences of her not paying her rates are that she's looking at losing her home, which is very sad."

Ms Bright said she bought her home for $145,000 in 1990 and it was now worth $1,040,000.

Auckland Council said taking action to recover rates was a last resort but it had sold homes in the past to cover unpaid rates bills.

If the sale did go ahead, the remainder of the proceeds from the sale would be released to Ms Bright through the Public Trust.

Ms Bright said she was willing to meet with Auckland Council to reach an agreement but her stance toward it opening its books would not change.

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