Kaipara District Council will establish a "focus group" to address the problems associated with historical rating irregularities amounting to $17.3 million.
A legal review of the council's rating process by Simpson and Grierson in February identifying the method used for collecting rates for the Mangawhai Wastewater Scheme and the setting of targeted forestry rates together totalling around $9.5 million did not meet statutory requirements. As a result, the council asked the review be extended to include all rates since the 2006/07 financial year (rates beyond this period cannot be challenged).
Simpson and Grierson have since found about $7.8 million rates set on other wastewater schemes also do not comply with either the relevant Funding Impact Statement or the Local Government Rating Act.
A minimum charge per meter reading on the Maungaturoto Station Village Water Supply (rather than charging actual consumption) totalling around $10,000 also failed to meet statutory requirements.
In a report to the council last week, chief executive Steve Ruru said Simpson Grierson was of the view "the non-compliance issues were insufficient to invalidate the rates assessment and not a sound legal reason for a ratepayer to deny they had a liability to pay the rates in the assessment."
Many Kaipara ratepayers are not paying their rates, largely in protest over the council's $80 million debt.
Mr Ruru said a report outlining options for addressing the issues was currently under way.
Options included promoting a Local Bill, use of the rates replacement procedures in the LGRA, repaying the rates with repayment being funded over the same properties and refunding the rates with a repayment being funded from general rate.
It was agreed four to six community representatives from across the district along with possibly two councillors form the focus group would work through options. The community would also be consulted on the options before determining any recommendations.
Mangawhai resident and retired barrister Clive Boonham has said he believes the setting of such rates was illegal.
Yesterday he said until he has seen the Simpson and Grierson report he would reserve his opinion of their findings. He has applied for the report under the Official Information Act.