High Court judge Ailsa Duffy has brought to an end an episode in the scrap over the secretively funded & heavily over cost Mangawhai Ecocare sewerage scheme.
The Mangawhai Ratepayers’ & Residents’ Association & its chair, Bruce Rogan, fought the imposition of rates to pay for the sewerage system after its cost blowout was exposed – the district council secretly borrowed $58 million for its capital cost – resulting in a Validation Act being passed as the association was heading to court for a judicial review.
In 2014, Justice Paul Heath found the Validation Act passed to make those rates lawful did just that – made them lawful.
Some ratepayers, led by Mr Rogan, refused to pay Kaipara District Council rates, and refused to pay Northland Regional Council rates when they discovered the regional council had no authority to hire the district council to collect them.
Justice Duffy found in an interim judgment that these regional council rates were unlawful. In a second judgment on that case yesterday, she quashed the regional council’s rates for the rating years 2011-12 to 2015-16 and also set aside the penalties imposed for non-payment.
However, she said the ratepayers’ association & Mr Rogan hadn’t sought reimbursement in their claim and she made no order directing the regional council to refund the relevant rates & penalties.