In a decision passed down on May 3, the Supreme Court dismissed the Mangawhai Ratepayers and Residents Association (MRRA's) application to appeal a decision of the High Court in 2013, which found the rating increase to help pay for a new wastewater system was not unlawful.
In his summary of the decision, High Court Justice Paul Heath found the project was mismanaged, and that the $57m cost ‘far exceeded estimates’.
But although the project, the borrowing to pay for it and the setting of rates to meet the loan obligations were unlawful, the rates increase because of it was not.
So while the MRRA has succeeded in the High Court in obtaining a declaration that the Council acted unlawfully in entering into contracts for the project, it has failed in its challenge to the validity of rates levied and to be levied on members of the Association and in a damages claim against the Council.
The MRRA's subsequent appeal to challenge the High Court's decision failed.
And today, the association's request to appeal that finding was denied by the Supreme Court.
Chair of Commissioners John Robertson welcomed the decision.
“This closes the Judicial Review case first launched by the MRRA against the Council in 2014. There can be no more appeals on this case.”
The MRRA was ordered to pay costs of $2500 to the council.
In a press release following the decision, the MRRA says it is appalled at the decision, saying it is ‘tragic for democracy that the judiciary yielded to that pressure.’
The Association says it now plans to facilitate a social media movement to convince Parliament to restore representation and accountability in local government.