Far North householders face losing their homes over unpaid rates as the District Council claws back millions under a tough new approach.
The first court-ordered property sale under the Local Government (Rating) Act is scheduled for January - a bare Kerikeri block.
The council is also preparing cases to submit to the District Court for up to 21 other properties. Those that the court rules be sold under the Local Government (Rating) Act will also face sale under the same proceedings.
Far North District Council chief financial officer Janice Smith told Northland Regional Council's (NRC) Tuesday 17 December meeting in Whangarei the other 21 properties involved houses, which would mean people losing their homes.
After the meeting, she said there were houses on some of the 21 properties, but was not able to specify the exact number involved.
"We're getting a lot more aggressive, that's quite a change in stance," Smith said.
The outstanding properties are the worst offenders amongst the council's 38,000 rates accounts, owing at least $10,000 each in rates from as far back as 2014.
FNDC owes NRC more than $3,682,653 of outstanding NRC rates it collects on behalf of the regional council, going back up to six years.
By law, rating debts accumulated prior to that time must be written off.
The unpaid rates do not include those from this financial year.
The council had boosted its internal legal capacity, employing four new in-house lawyers. It was tackling the most serious in-arrears rates cases first.
FNDC's transactions manager Margareit Veenstra said in an agenda item in support of the outstanding collections more than $2.6m was for Māori freehold land rates, accounting for 73 percent of the outstanding money.
FNDC rates recovery also involved the council's new Te Hono Māori relationships unit working with relevant iwi and others, Smith said.
NRC councillors were largely in favour of Smith's statements, but faced criticism from Northland Regional Council deputy chair and Far North resident Justin Blaikie.
"We're on a treadmill going round and round," Blaikie told the meeting at the start of its consideration of the issue.
Blaikie said the in-arrears FNDC rating collection affected the entire Far North district. Those who were paying rates were subsidising the many infrastructure projects the territorial authority needed to carry out.
He said the situation also impacted on Northland Regional Council's operations.
Blaikie called for changes to the Local Government (Rating) Act to better deal with the in-arrears rates situation.
One top of the $3.6m owed from the Far North, more than $1m was still owed from other districts in the region $758,750 from Kaipara and $266,391 from Whangarei, the meeting agenda showed.
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