25 Aug 2012

Kaipara rates rebels dig their heels in

6:31 am on 25 August 2012

A Northland rates revolt shows no sign of diminishing after the latest moves by Kaipara District Council.

On Thursday the council signed off two documents that clear the way for controversial new rate demands.

In one of their last acts before commissioners take over to tackle Kaipara's $80 million debt problem, councillors approved the overdue annual report and long-term plan.

The chairperson of a Mangawhai ratepayers' group, Bruce Rogan, says the council has made significant changes to its unpopular plan but did not take them back to the community for comment as the law requires.

Mr Rogan says that makes the plan unlawful and the sign-off will only fuel the rates revolt.

The council estimates that 900 people are deliberately withholding their rates, after it it sent out demands that in some cases doubled or trebled last year's rates.

It says it can manage the drop in rates revenue by borrowing, but Mr Rogan says the council sent out 2500 rate arrears notices in June and is already borrowing just to pay interest on its massive loans.

He says by signing off the financial documents it has also certified to the auditors that it's a going concern - and a growing number of ratepayers believe it is not.