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Thu, 31 Mar 2016 at 8:24 a.m.
█ Message: Maybe time to revisit Jacks Point and Luggate? …
The Mangawhai wastewater scheme cost about $63.3 million. Overall costs were not just financial, the Auditor-General’s report said. “They included a failed council, councillors replaced with commissioners, the departure of a chief executive, a severely damaged relationship between the council and community, an organisation that needed to be rebuilt, and much more.”
### Stuff.co.nz Last updated 17:21, March 30 2016
Dispute settlement sees Auditor General pay nearly $5.4 million to Kaipara District Council
About $5.375 million will be paid to the Kaipara District Council by the Auditor-General’s office now that a dispute between the two has been settled. Mediation of the dispute over audit issues around the controversial and costly Mangawhai wastewater scheme was held by retired High Court judge Rodney Hansen QC, without any admission of liability and for each party to cover their own litigation costs.
Auditor-General Lyn Provost’s scathing inquiry report to Parliament in December 2013 outlined “a woeful saga” surrounding the community wastewater scheme, managed by the then-council between 1996 and 2012. It covered roles played by other agencies, including the Controller and Auditor-General’s office. The inquiry found the council failed to adequately perform its responsibilities to the community in connection with the wastewater scheme. The council itself alleged the Auditor-General did not identify these failings in a timely manner and take appropriate steps to bring them to the council’s attention. It also alleged some of the poor decisions it made could have been averted if the Auditor-General’s office had performed its responsibilities appropriately.
The Auditor-General offered an unreserved apology in the report to the Kaipara district community for the office’s failings in some of its work, but disputed the council’s damages claim. In particular, the Auditor-General considered the council had the responsibility to comply with its statutory obligations, and its failure to do so is not attributable to the Auditor-General’s office. The dispute was settled with neither party admitting liability but the Auditor-General’s office agreeing to pay $5.38 million to Kaipara District Council.
A rates revolt began as costs were included in Mangawhai rates, with some properties connected to the new scheme now paying around $3000 annually in rates. Kaipara District Council commissioner John Robertson said the council was pleased to see a positive outcome from the High Court action it took against the Auditor-General in 2014. “If we hadn’t got an outcome we would be back in court and facing all the risks of whatever judgments go on these sorts of things.”
The Kaipara District Council has two more court battles pending with Mangawhai ratepayers.
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Posted by Elizabeth Kerr