Kaipara this time

If the council does not raise the rates, the Government will install a commissioner who will.

### radionz.co.nz Updated 19 minutes ago
Kaipara mayor warns of leap in rates
Kaipara district mayor Neil Tiller has confirmed the small Northland rural district is facing massive rate rises to cope with its debt crisis, saying the council has been forced to resort to borrowing to “pay for its groceries”.
Read more

****

### radionz.co.nz Updated at 12:45 pm today
Farming leader calls for council to resign
A Northland farming leader has taken out an ad in his local paper claiming the Kaipara District Council is bankrupt and the council should resign. The operations director of Farmers of New Zealand, Bill Guest, says the small council is now nearly $90 million in debt.
Read more

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

35 Comments

Filed under Economics, Geography, People, Politics, Project management

35 responses to “Kaipara this time

  1. Elizabeth

    Interview with Nick Smith, Minister of Local Government

    ### radionz.co.nz Wednesday 22 February 2012
    Morning Report with Geoff Robinson & Simon Mercep
    8:23 Debt-ridden Kaipara considers amalgamation
    The government’s been called on to step in and dissolve the Kaipara District Council, after details emerged of the council’s debt crisis. (5′20″)
    Audio | Download: Ogg Vorbis MP3 | Embed

  2. Lindsay

    According to the news Kaipara is the Greece of local bodies.
    We are not letting that title go without a fight!

  3. Anonymous

    Kaipara’s debt blows out to $90M and Nick Smith steps in. Dunedin’s is now $460M thanks to Athol Stephens and Cr Syd Brown but the minister appears to dismiss it.

    Doesn’t Kaipara have a professional rugby group bludging off its ratepayers? Hasn’t its stakeholders scammed them into paying for a stadium? Or does it simply not have assets which require significant debt to accumulate first before justifying their sale?

    I believe the debt is actually nearer $1B – if not already surpassed it – and Dunedin City Council does not know how bad it really is. So how bad does it have to get before Nick Smith gets interested in the dodgy dealings going on in Dunedin?

  4. Lindsay

    Nick Smith is hardly donning tights and leaping in to save Kaipara. He wants them to sort it out themselves – well, good luck with that.
    Please let him be a better MInister of Local Government than old bullet head.

  5. Russell Garbutt

    According to the published DCC accounts, as of June 2011, the short term and term loans total $586m (p83 of the Annual Report).

    Since that date, the term of the loan has gone to 40 years adding another $100m of liabilities, and of course there is not a snowball’s chance in hell of DVML making enough money to even think about starting to pay off the mythical “private funding”. I am sure that since that time, other debt has also been agreed to.

    As of June last year, our debt level per ratepayer was $11,056. Does anyone know what the debt level per ratepayer in Kaipara was in order for Nick Smith to tell the Mayor up there to start answering some questions?

  6. Anonymous

    Didn’t find ratepayer information on kaipara.govt.nz but Wikipedia lists the district’s population at 19,150. So less than $5,000?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaipara_District
    http://www.kaipara.govt.nz/Your+Council/Mayor++Councillors.html

    “There are also concerns about the financial accounting, reporting and monitoring of the Council and the true size of the public debt that has been incurred.”
    http://www.kaiparaconcerns.co.nz/

    Call to remove Kaipara District Council
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/local-news/northland/3221198/Call-to-remove-Kaipara-District-Council

    • Elizabeth

      Listener
      Rates and wrongs
      By Nick Smith | Published on July 29, 2006 | Issue 3455
      http://www.listener.co.nz/commentary/rates-and-wrongs/

      ****

      Listener – Current Issue
      February 25-March 2 2012 Issue 3746
      http://www.listener.co.nz/category/current-issue/

      COVER STORY
      Rates Rises – why you should be worried

      Local authority spending and burgeoning council debt is one of the year’s big issues, writes Jane Clifton, and the Government is about to announce a top-to-bottom reform of local authorities. Also in this issue, Rebecca Macfie surveys Christchurch one year one from the earthquake that killed 185 people; Hamish McKenzie interviews TVNZ’s US correspondent Tim Wilson, who is homeward bound; and Craig Sisterson profiles New Zealand crime writer Paul Thomas, who has brought back his offbeat detective Tito Ihaka after a 15-year hiatus.

      FEATURES

      Rates rises and reform of local authorities
      Christchurch one year on
      Tim Wilson interview
      Paul Thomas interview

  7. Russell Garbutt

    Just found out from the Listener article that the per ratepayer debt level in Kaipara was $4,395. About a third of Dunedin’s level according to our last Annual Report.

    So, would some requests to the Minister to act be unreasonable?

  8. Russell Garbutt

    Unbelievable response! What planet does this coot come from? No wonder local government is being looked at – this guy should be in Nick’s office tomorrow morning.

  9. Hype O'Thermia

    It’s not the stadium, stupid!
    It’s the bitumen.
    I feel much better knowing that.

  10. Hype O'Thermia

    Just sharing new insights, Elizabeth. I’d been wrong so long, and I wasn’t the only one who misunderstood.

  11. Phil

    And we now know that Kaipara has the largest amount of asphalt roads per head of population in the entire country. Got that question nailed at the next pub quiz night.

  12. Hype O'Thermia

    From the LIstener http://www.listener.co.nz/commentary/rates-and-wrongs/ :
    ‘Soft spending or not, rates just keep going up, and Local Government New Zealand chief executive Eugene Bowden is not about to apologise for it: “Our attitude towards the councils making big rates rises,” he says, “is we are commending them for making the tough decisions. We’re saying, you have done something courageous here.” ‘
    It takes courage, not self-interest, to beggar one’s community. Another new thing I’ve learned. Who needs to go to university when there is so much wisdom we can tap into without going anywhere near a flaming couch?

  13. Anonymous

    Local Government New Zealand principal adviser Dr Michael Reid:

    “Debt is an internationally accepted way of spreading costs over future generations and ensuring the present generation doesn’t pay more than its share. Debt is not the demon it is made out to be and is needed to fund councils’ long term infrastructure plans.”

    This government appears to support the delusional visions of our Dunedin City Council. This is all so sad. Cruel and frightening and very, very sad.

  14. Russell Garbutt

    It is worth going to the Local Government site where this guy preaches his rhetoric. One article in their magazine can be reached at this URL

    http://www.localgovernmentmag.co.nz/News/LatestNews/tabid/387/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/2771/Questions-over-councils-and-their-debt.aspx

    But it is even more interesting when you read Larry Mitchell’s response to this mantra which reads:

    Highly indebted posited unsustainable debt level Councils have reached a point where the interest content now exceeds 20%, some as high as 25% of an average rates bill. Further, there will be cases where no! provision for, nor any proportion of this debt-rates related content covers debt repayment. A full recovery from rates of interest and! of debt repayments would make these bad situations materially worse. A simplistic measure of debt to be a maximum of (say) 10% of Council revenue for assessing maximum levels of debt will not expose the rates/interest related maxima to the light. Extensive research confirms that affordability of rates is the! key Council public interest financial management issue and this is most influenced, in terms of all other debt-related variables by the interest content of a rates bill. Councils should be managing maximum debt levels using this rates/interest-repayments content indicator. After all, would a householder with a mortgage consider a 20 to 25% interest content as a proportion of their household costs to be sustainable over the mid to long term. Add say another 5% pa to this total for debt repayment. Mr Micawber would no doubt be less than sanguine about this kind of debt “management”. A maximum prudent level (if pressed on this point) in these straightened times could be less than half (10%?) of the unaffordable maximums currently being run.
    posted @ Wednesday, November 02, 2011 by Larry Mitchell

    I know which view I subscribe to, but does everyone recall the phrases used by the late Richard Walls, and carried on so strongly by the Brown cabal? Intergenerational debt anyone?
    ——————————————————————————–

  15. Hype O'Thermia

    Woo-hoo, forensic accountants appointed! Just heard it on the 11am news.

    {Read for Dunedin City Council’s stadium project. See new post. -Eds}

  16. Peter

    Brown is someone who should be removed from his pivotal role as Finance, Strategy and Development chairman. He is donkey deep into the stadium debacle. Many don’t trust the man. He is one of those quiet, background movers who slip under the radar.
    He was Chin’s deputy. I can’t understand why Dave Cull appointed him to the FSD role in the first place. Confidence can be gained by his removal. I seem to remember Dave Cull said after he was elected that the chairmanships were up for review after one year. It is now about eighteen months since the last election.

  17. Russell Garbutt

    Interesting the changes made to my submitted letter by the Listener. The original letter read as follows:

    It is amazing that Dunedin seems to have slipped under your radar on this timely story. Kaipara has attracted ministerial attention with a per ratepayer debt level of $4,395, while according to the latest available audited accounts of Dunedin, the equivalent figure is $11,056. Kaipara may have a lowish economic demographic, but so does Dunedin.

    The major cause of this incredible situation is without doubt the decision to proceed with a stadium that has turned out to be almost entirely ratepayer funded for professional rugby which is now just been declared to be unable to pay creditors. Ratepayers clearly gave the DCC the message that they did not support a ratepayer funded stadium but Council ignored both polls and the submission process. The fact that the ratepayers also had to put up with a further contribution of $37.5m from the Otago Regional Council merely added to the misery and totals of debt. Ratepayers still can’t find out the final cost of the stadium and it is now apparent that the forecasted income for the stadium, like most of these projects, was overestimated while the costs are underestimated. The term of the loan taken out to finance the stadium has now been increased to 40 years meaning our children will not have paid it off by the time they have retired. Good Local Body governance?

    Russell Garbutt
    Dunedin

    • Elizabeth

      ### tvnz.co.nz 6:12PM Monday April 30, 2012
      Source: Close Up
      Rates revolt
      Residents of Mangawhai are so incensed at a 30% rates increase, and the council’s handling of their money, they have laid a complaint with police and are threatening to boycott paying. At the heart of the issue is a fancy sewerage scheme that ballooned by more than $35 million over budget. Close Up hears from the disgruntled residents and Kaipara District Council Mayor Neil Tiller.
      Close Up Link

      Video (full programme)

  18. Anonymous

    There was a rates revolt story on 3 News tonight. The Mayor looked to be shitting asphalt (has anyone checked to see if he has a “Cousin Farry” in the asphalt business?). Of course if they had built a rugby stadium too then the media and government would have turned a blind eye, allowing all the associated Stakeholders free to do it again.

    Still lakeside options available in Queenstown.

    • Elizabeth

      ### 3news.co.nz Sun, 22 Jul 2012 6:18p.m.
      Kaipara Council ‘running on luck’
      By Brook Sabin
      Serious questions are tonight being asked of the troubled Kaipara Council after a report obtained by 3 News outlined major legal concerns. It comes as the rates revolt against the council in the rural district north of Auckland gathers steam, with around 10 percent of rates overdue. It is an idyllic, isolated part of the country. But because of a huge cost blow-out in constructing Mangawhai’s wastewater scheme, the council is facing a debt crisis.
      Read more + Video

  19. Elizabeth

    ### nzherald.co.nz 3:36 PM Monday Aug 13, 2012
    New management for indebted Kaipara District Council
    By Adam Bennett
    Government appointed commissioners are to take over management of the heavily indebted Kaipara District Council, Local Government Minister David Carter says. Mr Carter said the council requested the appointment of independent commissioners today after being briefed by a Government appointed review team on the report it would submit to him this week. Mr Carter ordered the review in May saying the financial situation at the Northland resort town was urgent and action was needed. Kaipara’s debts total $80.7 million including about $60 million for the Mangawhai sewerage scheme, leading the council to propose a 31 per cent average rate increase, which had ratepayers up in arms.
    Read more

    ****

    ### radionz.co.nz Tuesday 14 August 2012
    Morning Report with Geoff Robinson & Simon Mercep
    http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/morningreport

    07:49 Doubts whether commissioners will solve debt crisis
    Many people in Northland say they are skeptical whether Government-appointed commissioners will be able to fix the Kaipara District Council’s out-of-control debt and restore the faith of the community. (3′27″)
    Audio | Download: Ogg Vorbis MP3 | Embed

    07:53 Kaipara council calls for commissioners
    Response from Kaipara District’s deputy mayor, Julie Geange. (3′33″)
    Audio | Download: Ogg Vorbis MP3 | Embed

    08:40 Commissioners take over NZ’s most indebted council
    Opposition parties are asking why it took so long to appoint commissioners to run Kaipara District Council. (3′09″)
    Audio | Download: Ogg Vorbis MP3 | Embed

    ****

    ### radionz.co.nz Tuesday, 21 August 2012 Updated at 9:51AM
    Radio New Zealand: News
    $240,000 payment made by indebted council
    Debt-ridden Kaipara District Council has revealed its former chief executive received a severance payment of $240,000 when he left the job. Jack McKerchar oversaw the borrowings for a sewerage scheme at Mangawhai that have led to a debt crisis at the council. He resigned late last year after 18 years with the council, giving health concerns as his reason.
    Read more

    ****

    ### scoop.co.nz Thursday, 16 Aug 2012, 2:04 pm
    Opinion: Federated Farmers
    Kaipara’s financial mess not all its own
    By Matt Long – Northland provincial president
    15 August 2012
    Kaipara District Council’s (KDC) request for independent commissioners to take care of its $80.7 million financial hole illustrates plainly why Federated Farmers is so supportive of the government’s plans to reform the Local Government Act. With mob of angry ratepayers refusing to pay, KDC has finally turned to the government to step in and take over. I see this as the only possible solution in an impossible situation and there is some poetic justice in the government helping clean up a fiscal disaster it had a hand in creating. The council’s Mangawhai EcoCare Wastewater Treatment Scheme project plans were obviously based on the assumption of an indefinite continuation of lifestyle blocks and beach houses providing plentiful development contributions and a growing rateable base. The onset of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) detonated that idea. It is also obvious the original pricing presented to councillors, about $20 million, was far beyond the realms of reality. KDC has been naive and possibly mislead by dodgy staff accounting. However, the role of central government should also be kept in mind.
    Read more

  20. Anonymous

    There are so many similarities between Kaipara’s corrupt council and Dunedin’s. The “severance” payouts were unreal, not just to the former chief executive but also the executive staff who received the equivalent of six months wages on leaving. The most noticable difference? Dunedin’s corruption was and is much, much worse. Not $80M. But $800M. Why doesn’t the government put the screws on here? Unlike Kaipara, the Stadium Councillors had an entertainment centre built for the Stakeholders to watch their professional rugby in comfort. Stadiums and rugby are important to the wealthy and they won’t give up their roofed comfort so quickly. The other to-do list item is to strip the city of its assets. Kaipara doesn’t have any. But we do. You and me are set to lose a lot more before they leave permanently for Queenstown.

    The fact this council needs a Spook department to obfuscate the past and the now is a sure sign of the guilt and corruption systemic in this council.

  21. Elizabeth

    Based on Larry Mitchell’s comments in the article it appears the chairman of the commissioners is not fully awake to the financial management solutions and responsibilities. Listen and learn Dunedin.

    ### nzherald.co.nz 5:30 AM Saturday Nov 17, 2012
    Tiny council’s debt at $100m
    By Andrew Laxon
    A small council on the verge of bankruptcy now faces a potential debt of about $100 million – equal to more than $7000 for every ratepayer. The Kaipara District Council is preparing for the possibility it will have to pay back about $19 million of illegally set rates, on top of the $79 million debt it has run up in the past four years. Elected councillors resigned in August to make way for Government-appointed commissioners, who are trying to keep the Northland council financially afloat and stop the spread of a rates strike which affects much of the district. The strikers’ main grievance is that the council secretly agreed to double the cost of an unpopular sewage treatment scheme in Mangawhai, which has created most of the debt.
    Read more

    Kaipara District Council
    ● $100m potential debt
    ● $7184 for every ratepayer
    ● 1100 ratepayers on strike
    ● $2.2 million shortfall expected

    • Elizabeth

      ### radionz.conzUpdated at 11:54 am today
      RNZ News
      Legal opinion backs rates rebellion
      The leaders of a rates rebellion in Northland say a legal opinion has confirmed their view that Kaipara District Council’s rate demands are illegal. An estimated 1100 people are refusing to pay their rates in the Mangawhai, after the council botched the management of a new sewerage scheme and tried to rate the small community to cover loans of nearly $60 million. Mangawhai Ratepayers Association president Bruce Rogan said a draft opinion received this week from a prominent Auckland barrister found that the council’s most recent rating process was unlawful. He said ratepayers in Mangawhai will present the opinion to the commissioners now running the council and ask them to withdraw the rate demands.
      RNZ Link

  22. Kaipara ratepayers want their council bankrupted
    March 2, 2013, 10:00 am
    Adam Walker – Newstalk ZB
    The High Court is being asked to overturn decisions made by Kaipara Council, in what ratepayers say is an effort to keep the region alive. Mangawhai’s ratepayers association has instructed lawyers to take action against the Council. They want the Court to stop the Council making decisions which raise revenue, hoping to push it into bankruptcy.
    Read more
    http://nz.news.yahoo.com/a/-/top-stories/16280198/kaipara-ratepayers-want-their-council-bankrupted/

    Thanks to Martin Legge for sharing this important link.

    • Dunedin people have a hell of a lot to learn – in their city of lawyers, and an eminent law school.

      Kaipara – a badly-treated small population of clever people. A community prepared to act against the council/commissioners who intend to pass the crimes of bad local government onto ratepayers.

      • Tonight, Campbell Live is briefly profiling Kaipara ratepayer strategy to get their district council made accountable for overspend (by debt funding) on a new sewerage system. Ratepayers are seeking to bankrupt the Kaipara District Council at court.

        http://www.3news.co.nz/Kaipara-residents-attempt-to-bankrupt-council/tabid/817/articleID/310005/Default.aspx

        • UPDATE

          Mangawhai ratepayers set for legal action
          6:45 PM Wednesday Mar 6, 2013
          Source: The Northern Advocate
          More than 1000 striking Mangawhai ratepayers say they are prepared to take legal action against Kaipara District Council over rating issues and the handling of the Mangawhai Community Wastewater Scheme.
          http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10869541

          Mangawhai ratepayers pack High Court
          Friday August 16 2013 12:30
          WHANGAREI – Nearly 100 Mangawhai Ratepayers and Residents Association members have turned up at the High Court at Whangarei this morning, as they push for a judicial review against the Kaipara District Council.
          http://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/auckland/news/nbnat/1643046291-mangawhai-ratepayers-pack-high-court

          THE NEWS

          ### scoop.co.nz Friday, 30 August 2013, 3:27 pm
          Mangawhai Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Assn v Kaipara Council

          Press Release: New Zealand High Court

          [Full judgment: Mangawhai_Ratepayers_and_Residents_Assn_v_Kaipara_District_Council.pdf]

          IN THE HIGH COURT OF NEW ZEALAND

          WHANGAREI REGISTRY
          CIV 2013-488-152

          [2013] NZHC 2220

          BETWEEN MANGAWHAI RATEPAYERS’ AND RESIDENTS’ ASSOCIATION INC

          Applicant
          AND KAIPARA DISTRICT COUNCIL

          Respondent

          Hearing: 16 August 2013
          Counsel: M S R Palmer and K R M Littlejohn for the Association

          D J Goddard QC and E H Wiessing for the Council
          Judgment: 29 August 2013

          JUDGMENT OF HEATH J

          This judgment was delivered by me on 29 August 2013 at 4.00pm pursuant to Rule 11.5 of the High Court Rules

          Paying for a sewage treatment plant at Mangawhai

          [1] Mangawhai Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association Inc (the Association) seeks judicial review of certain decisions made by the Kaipara District Council (the Council), all of which arise out of the Council’s resolution, in August 2005, to construct a sewage treatment plant at Mangawhai.1

          [2] The primary focus of the proceeding is on the question whether rates levied to meet the cost of the project were unlawfully struck, in the sense that they were assessed and levied in a manner that was beyond the powers conferred on the Council by the Local Government Act 2002 (the Act) or the Local Government (Rating) Act 2002 (the Rating Act). That challenge necessarily involves a consideration of the circumstances in which the Council resolved to build the plant and to borrow money to pay for it.

          [3] It is now acknowledged that there were irregularities in the rate fixing processes; so much so that the Member of Parliament for Northland has promoted a local bill that is designed, if enacted, to validate the Council’s actions.2

          [4] This proceeding demonstrates how badly things can go wrong when a democratically elected Council assumes significant financial obligations to an arm’s length third party without disclosing the extent of the borrowing to its ratepayers.

          […]

          Result

          [52] For those reasons, I dismiss the application to strike-out the first cause of action.

          [53] Counsel were agreed that costs should follow the event. Costs are awarded in favour of the Association, on a 3B basis, together with reasonable disbursements. Each shall be fixed by the Registrar. I certify for second counsel and direct that their reasonable travel and accommodation expenses should be included within the disbursements to be fixed.

          [54] I direct the Registrar to set this proceeding down for a case management conference before me at 9am on the first available date after 12 September 2013. I invite counsel to confer about directions that may be required and to confirm the length of time estimated for the substantive hearing. From discussions at the conclusion of the hearing

          [Full judgment: Mangawhai_Ratepayers_and_Residents_Assn_v_Kaipara_District_Council.pdf]

          Scoop Link

        • Notice to Kaipara Ratepayers at http://www.kaiparaconcerns.co.nz/

          RATE STRIKE
          Do not pay your rates.
          Council has confirmed that the current LTP is invalid which means that the rates are also invalid.
          The matter is now before the High Court.
          Withhold all payments and let the Court rule whether the rates are legal or not.

          Also from KaiparaConcerns:

          BOOT BOMBSHELL 28.10.13
          The beleaguered Kaipara District Council received another bombshell yesterday in an article by Rob Stock in the Sunday Star Times headed ‘Boot looms over Kaipara Council’. [see scan below]
          It has now been admitted by the Chief Executive, Steve Ruru, that the structure of the EcoCare scheme was actually outlawed by the Local Government Act. Under section 137 LGA councils were required at that time to retain ownership of all water services assets. However the EcoCare scheme was owned and built by a subsidiary of ABN Amro, the financier that provided the finance for the deal, and then subsequently transferred to the KDC.
          Council was well aware of the requirement, which was introduced in 2003, but still went ahead with the scheme knowing that it was illegal.
          This may be yet another line of attack in the MRRA application for judicial review of the decision to go ahead with the scheme. But the revelation raises some very serious concerns about the competence of those involved in the implementation of EcoCare.
          Why did Council go ahead with a scheme that it knew was illegal?
          What role did Council’s lawyers play in this?
          And what advice did it get from the two high profile consultant firms that oversaw the project?
          Are we to believe that ABN Amro, which financed the scheme and constructed the scheme through a subsidiary, did not know of this fundamental requirement of New Zealand law?
          And what of the high profile lawyers that acted for ABN Amro?
          Then we come to Audit New Zealand and the OAG which, as auditors, were supposed to prevent his sort of thing happening. Not one of the parties involved appears to have had any knowledge of the law. Or were they all seduced by the myth that was commonly accepted in local government circles that the protected transaction provisions in the LGA meant that councils’ loans were guaranteed despite any illegality.
          Did they believe that the loans were utterly secure and that they could flout the law with impunity?

          SST 27.10.13 (page D7)SST 27.10.13 (page D7) – click to enlarge

          MOTIVATION FOR ECOCARE 27.10.2013
          The Mangawhai EcoCare scheme was promoted as being necessary to prevent the pollution of the Mangawhai estuary by septic tanks. Many have doubted that claim, citing run-off from farms as being the major pollutant. Comparative figures are vague but it appears that there has been no improvement in water quality since the EcoCare scheme was completed. That is not surprising given the haphazard connection programme where no proper records were kept of properties connected. Indeed, many property owners who believe they are connected might be surprised to find out that they are still connected to their septic tank. Council will need to check every property in the catchment area to see what its status is in the ground and not on some list of supposed connections. It is also surprising to see that many properties bordering on the harbour are still not connected to the scheme. This includes the Mangawhai school.
          Rob Stock’s recent article in the Sunday Star Times, ‘Kaipara debt shopped to rich’, suggests that the EcoCare financier ABN Amro offered high returns to a group of wealthy individuals to invest in the EcoCare scheme. The proposal fell through and the financier provided the money itself. Everything about Ecocare is rather murky but such revelations reinforce the view of many that the EcoCare scheme was a get-rich-quick scheme promoted by contractors, consultants and financiers. The pollution aspect was the spin used to promote the scheme and to suck ratepayers in.
          It will be fascinating to see what the OAG report has to say about the matter. According to a recent statement from that Office the report should be out soon. But don’t hold your breathe. Destroying its own credibility is one thing that the OAG excels at.

  23. Anonymous

    ‘Commissioners […] proposed 200 percent rates increases to get on top of previous overspending.’

    In 1999 this city’s debt was less than $40M. Jim Harland and Peter Chin’s council increased that debt by a factor of ten. Dave Cull’s council continues to nurture and grow that debt, spending many millions more on non-essential infrastructure and a damned stadium.

    Kaipara’s debt is $90M. Dunedin’s is believed to be closer to $900M.

    It seems that while the Stakeholders have interests to protect, while Dunedin has a rugby stadium and while National holds onto its power, the truth is being withheld and managed but it cannot last forever.

    What would a 200% increase in rates mean to you?

    You can either keeping buying the ODT or learn again to think for yourself. Start here: https://dunedinstadium.wordpress.com/2013/02/28/stupefied-and-bought-kiwis-the-dirt/.

  24. PEACE INTERRUPTED: Profound ill will over a rates dispute could take years to repair.

    ### stuff.co.nz
    Trouble in Paradise
    By Rob Stock – Sunday Star Times
    The damage mismanagement by a local council can do to a ratepayer’s finances is nowhere better shown than in the beautiful seaside town of Mangawhai Heads where previously law-abiding people are staging a “rates strike”.
    Rates are a cause of concern for many, but even where rises repeatedly outstrip inflation, people are loathe to refuse to pay, especially as councils have powers to tap their mortgages or take them to court to force payment.
    It takes something special for more than a thousand householders to refuse to pay their rates.
    Something special has happened in Mangawhai.
    There the Kaipara District Council illegally racked up massive debts for a wastewater system during a period in which the council was characterised by “mismanagement, incompetence, carelessness and dysfunctional governance”, as local MP Mike Sabin told Parliament.
    The council oversaw a cost blowout on the scheme from $11 million in 1999 to just over $60m, failed to consult the community as the price rose, and saddled all Kaipara ratepayers with $58m of debt through borrowing conducted behind closed doors.
    In three years, rates demands for some in the Heads have jumped from $1200 to over $6000 a year. In a very short space of time Mangawhai has become a much more expensive place to live.
    Around 1600 households joined the rates strike. However, they say as the rates were illegally levied on illegally raised debts, it is unfair to even call it a strike.
    Read more
    Last updated 05:00 22/09/2013http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/9190391/Trouble-in-Paradise

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