Government action to rectify a parliamentary bungle which has left the Far North District Council $110,000 out of pocket a year looks unlikely.
Last year's Marine and Coastal Area Act, which replaced the controversial Seabed and Foreshore Act, accidentally made many properties built over the water exempt from rates. The cost to the council is $110,000 a year in lost rates, although it can still charge those properties for services such as water and sewerage.
The council is now refunding ratepayers who had already been billed and paid up for the 2011-12 year. Affected properties include Mayor Wayne Brown's home and the famous fish shop in Mangonui, shops and cafes in Rawene and Paihia, and marine businesses in Opua.
Deputy Mayor Ann Court said some fights were not worth picking, but this was one she was prepared to "die in a ditch" over.
"It's not right that some people are exempt from rates, when they use all the same services. I'd like to see us make a bit of a fuss about this," she said.
Strategic policy manager Chris Ellington, however, gave her little hope the Government would fix the law.
The Department of Internal Affairs had written to every council to ask whether, and to what extent, they were affected.
Mr Ellington said only three councils had advised the department they had been left seriously out of pocket.
Unless council losses were widespread, it was unlikely the legislation would change, he said.