Legal Action Looms Against Protesting Ratepayers

Published: Thu 28 Oct 2004 04:23 PM
28th October 2004
Statement from David Thornton
Legal Action Looms Against Protesting Ratepayers
Rates Rebellion Calls For Hold On Action And Seeks Meeting With New Arc Chair
Next Monday, November 1st, is a key date when ARC may take legal action against ratepayers who supported last year's rates rebellion against huge rate increases imposed by the Auckland Regional Council.
Although the ARC has generally refused to acknowledge the number of ratepayers involved the council's annual report shows a shortfall in rates of about $5million.
We believe that several thousand ratepayers are still withholding all or part of their rates - or are refusing to pay penalties.
Many ratepayers have rung rates rebellion leaders over the last few weeks asking for information on what action the new ARC is likely to take.
We have therefore written to new ARC chairman Mike Lee asking him to stop any legal or mortgagee action against ratepayers until we have the opportunity to meet
with him and put proposals to the new council to settle the outstanding issues arising from the rates rebellion.
The full text of the letter to Mike Lee follows;-
Dear Mike,
Firstly, congratulations on your elevation to the chair of the council - good luck in that position.
While the Rates Rebellion team was disappointed at its failure to win any seats on the ARC there is no doubt that the rates rebellion campaign was instrumental is ensuring that the dominant group on the previous council is no longer in power.
Now there remains the question of unfinished business in relation to those ratepayers who were the backbone of that rebellion and who withheld all or part of their rates, including those who paid their rates by instalments in response to the ambiguity on the rates demands for 2003/4. We believe that there are several thousand ratepayers in this group.
We understand that council officers proposed to the previous council a programme to institute action against 'defaulting' ratepayers on 1st November 2004. Those actions being either [a] to write to mortgagee demanding payment of any account more than $25 in default, or [b], if there was no mortgage, to advise defaulters of imminent legal action through the Courts for recovery.
However we have not been able to ascertain if this course of action has been approved by the full council as was promised earlier this year.
We have had numerous calls from ratepayers stating that either they will not pay anything, or they will not pay penalties - indeed we believe some of these ratepayers will be willing to go to court and fight the ARC.
In view of this we request that the council instructs the officers to take no action until the new council has considered the position.
Furthermore we request an opportunity to address the full council on this whole issue and to make certain proposals to the council as to how this whole matter can be resolved with out recourse to the judicial process.
In order to progress this matter we request a meeting with you at the earliest opportunity.
David Thornton

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