Rates arrears: Numbers tell the story
A total of 517 Mangawhai ratepayers or 20 percent of total property owners still owed more than $2 million in prior year rate arrears at September 30.
Approximately two-thirds of those have Auckland mailing addresses, indicating they are not permanent residents, and most likely own two properties.
The Kaipara District Council has recently sent letters to defaulters warning of impending legal action, and this would commence in the next few months.
Mangawhai arrears comprise 42 percent of total Kaipara District Council arrears with Maori land registry and abandoned land comprising 37 percent ($1.8 million) and the remainder of the Kaipara area 21 percent ($1 million)
Kaipara District Council Commissioner, Mr John Robertson, said the council was unable to say how many of those Mangawhai defaulters were intentionally holding back rates as opposed to those who were having difficulty paying their rates, but the weighting of Mangawhai arrears together with the Mangawhai Residents & Ratepayers Association (MRRA) campaign gave “a reasonable pointer.”
Mr Robertson said that 13 Mangawhai property owners comprised approximately $500,000, or 25% of total arrears in Mangawhai.
The largest rate defaulter who had multi titles in Mangawhai had rate arrears of approximately $200,000.
A total of 12 property owners accounted for a further $300,000, indicating their average arrears were more than $16,000.
The remaining $1.5 million in arrears from the 504 defaulters indicat-ed that the average payment overdue, excluding penalties, was $2,976.
Penalty payments at September 30, 2014 totaled $700,000, which spread across all Kaipara district defaulters averaged $531 per defaulting ratepayer.
There are 14,135 rate-payers in the Kaipara District and 2,647 in the Mangawhai area. Mangawhai ratepayers comprise 19 percent of total ratepayers.
Mr Robertson said he could no longer see any rationale for property owners to withhold rates intentionally.
“If there was reason for a protest three years ago, surely that is now gone,” he said.
He cited the following: • Government appointed a Review Committee in 2012. It reported prompt-ly, and Commissioners were appointed.
• Commissioners were dealing systematically with the legacy of the past. They could not change history, but they could at-tend to the “wounds” that it left Kaipara with, and that is what they were doing.
• Parliamentarians across the House listened in 2013 to Kaipara residents in the Select Commit-tee process. Parliament then did its best to fix up historic rating errors by passing a Validation Act. They hoped that this would help heal divisions, mentioning this desire in speeches in the House.
• The Auditor General reported to the community on what happened to the Wastewater Scheme in 2013, in a report that dug deep. • Commissioners were attempting to hold peoannounced that Council was beginning proceed-ings against the former CEO and Audit NZ (the Auditor General).
“It seems to me that there no longer is any moral or legal reason to withhold rates,” he said.
“If there was a moral reason to withhold, surely this passed when elected members stood aside in 2012 and Commissioners stepped in; when the Council apologised for its performance; and when Commissioners announced that they were holding the former CE to account last month” he said.
“In a legal sense, there is absolutely no doubt that KDC rates have legal standing. Even the High Court has ruled this way.
“One other matter is worth noting,” he said.
“Regretfully, the MRRA executive is encouraging the withholding of all rates, not just the portions in dispute. So for three years, some property owners in Mangawhai have made no
contribution to the maintenance of the roads they travel on, no contribu-tion to the rate that sup-ports the restoration and upkeep of the harbour, no contribution to the surf lifesavers who patrol Mangawhai Heads in peak summer times, no contribution to the local library, no contribution to the important work at Kai Iwi Lakes to maintain its pristine condition, and of course, for those connect-ed to the MWWS, no contribution to the daily costs of its operations.”
By Peter Nicholas