12 Nov 2015

Court ruling dismays Mangawhai ratepayers

1:41 pm on 12 November 2015

Mangawhai people challenging rates set by the Kaipara District Council are dismayed by their latest defeat in court.

Mangawhai, Northland

Mangawhai, Northland Photo: 123RF

The Whangarei District Court has thrown out the arguments of Mangawhai Ratepayers' Association president Bruce Rogan that his rates and many others set since 2006 were invalid because of multiple errors in the rating assessments.

He said the council did not dispute the errors but the court had essentially said they did not matter.

"Things like setting the rates inclusive of GST, there's absolutely no power in the act to do that," Mr Rogan said.

"It's not a matter of them (the council) saying they didn't do these things; they actually said they did them and said so in court."

Councils should not be able to use the law to gouge ratepayers when they did not comply with it themselves, he said.

"It's the end of civil society as we know it if this is allowed to stand. That may sound over-dramatic but if we don't have a legal system that interprets the law as it is written then we're all doomed. "

The association was still waiting for a Court of Appeal decision after it challenged the council in the High Court over its right to bill ratepayers for council debts they were not told about.

The High Court found the Kaipaira District Court's borrowing to expand the Mangawhai Ecocare wastewater system was unlawful, because ratepayer had not been consulted about it.

However, it could not rule on the rates levied to pay for the bank loans because Parliament had passed a special bill to validate them.

Mr Rogan owes the council $22,000 in rate arrears and has offered to pay the portion he believed was lawfully levied, minus penalties.

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