Tasman Leader : August 1st 2013
16 THE TASMAN LEADER, AUGUST 1, 2013 NEWS WINTER SPECIAL 25% Reading Glasses Offer expires 31 July 2013 OFF 5446534AA Put more money in your back pocket with... For the absolutely best price at an extremely competitive rate... call us now! Harcourts Richmond 03 544 4441 261 Queen Street, Richmond Harcourts Mapua 03 540 3425 2a Iwa Street, Mapua Harcourts Motueka 03 528 9551 175d High Street, Motueka 5395105AE Will hope be in vain? By HELEN MURDOCH Bob Schmuke is hoping a Parliamen- tary select committee rejects the Tas- man District Council s request it endorse a stormwater rate charged to Tata Beach and Ligar Bay people. The Tasman Validation Bill, which will rat- ify the stormwater rate, and the way the council rated the entire district from 2003 to 2008, will fix the council s rating errors so it does not face legal challenges from rate- payers. Bob, who has a beach home at Tata Beach, recently put his view to the select committee. If they get our clause out we have made it, Bob said. But he believes the committee will not toss out the council s application it endorse the rates the district gathered from 2003 without following correct process because there is too much money involved . He said the Tasman District Council has spent tens of thousands of dollars on legal opinions to justify its position to uphold the stormwater rate, which property owners have paid since the council established an Urban Drainage Area over the coastal towns in 2006. Bob took his case to the Ombudsman who considered the stormwater rate illegitimate and, in the course of examining the council s process, found the entire district s rates had been improperly set from 2003 to 2008. At the time, the council passed rates attached to the body of annual plan agenda, rather than ratifying each rate individually. Bob said Tata Beach and Ligar Bay residents had paid about $32,000 annually in stormwater rates, which were based on prop- erty value, and there was still no storm- water here . Tasman mayor Richard Kempthorne, a senior council staff member and council chief executive Lindsay McKenzie, also made sub- missions to the committee. Lindsay said that the council acknow- ledged to the committee that the error that had been made and an apology had been extended to Parliament and the community for the time and costs involved in the proceedings. He estimated that the council had spent $80,000, mostly on legal advice. This advice was certainly not obtained to justify the rate. On the contrary, the advice identified the errors early on and much of the money was spent on fixing the error including drafting the bill. Lindsay said it was inappropriate to com- ment on the select committee s process or the outcome on the basis that the Parliamentary process was confidential at this stage. Select committee member and West Coast Tasman MP Damien O Connor said the issue of the stormwater rates was still being wor- ked through by the committee. The committee is carefully considering the issues put forward by residents and will be mindful of points of principle. He said residents had made a strong case but the collection of community-wide rates to fund infrastructure was also a key principle. However a council cannot just charge any- one what it likes. Damien said the select committee would release its decision in the next month or so.
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