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KDC rates issues still unresolved


Two days in court still failed to clear the air between dissenting Mangawhai ratepayers and the Kaipara District Council.

The Whangarei District Court was this week the scene of the first action by the Kaipara District Council against a party for non-payment of rates. 

In a test case , the outcome of which will almost certainly effect other non-payers, Bruce and Heather Rogan have led the Mangawhai rates revolt since 2008 and are refusing to pay rates citing they have been unlawfully set, assessed and invoiced.

Rates were validated by Parliament in 2013 then in 2014 Justice Paul Heath, in the High Court, supported that ruling. However the Mangawhai Ratepayers & Residents Association (MRRA) is appealing that decision, the hearing of which is set for August 25.

“We have never denied we have an obligation to pay rates but only those correctly set,” say the Rogan’s in what many see as unnecessary and further waste of ratepayer money. 

“Any offers to KDC have been completely ignored with them insisting on charging full fees plus penalties. The validation applied to monies due up until that date, not from that date into the future. We only want to be treated fairly.”

Rogan supporters, who overflowed the courtroom, came from as far afield as Auckland and the far north, such is the interest generated in the Kaipara situation.

In court, Jeremy Brown for the Rogan’s submitted that ratepayers had been “cheated by KDC through the retrospective validation and that defects in the rates assessment and invoicing made them invalid.” 

This concerned both the KDC and Northland Regional Council charges. However David Neutze for KDC responded that the ratepayers were ‘nit-picking’ as the High Court had already dealt with the issue and he simply endorsed the earlier High Court ruling.

Acknowledging the long and costly process, Kaipara Commissioners Chair John Robertson said court action is not ideal. 

“This was the only course left to us by which to collect the outstanding rates which have been paid by the vast majority of residents in the Kaipara.”

He hoped the whole matter could be brought to a satisfactory conclusion by the end of this calendar year.

Judge De Ridder reserved his decision saying there was “a lot to consider” and his decision “was unlikely to be delivered anytime soon.” 

“Though we have stated our case things are still very much in limbo,” says Bruce Rogan “and it’s entirely possible there will be no decision until after the appeal hearing.” 

In the meantime it is expected that penalties will continue to be added to the outstanding amount.
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