Kaipara ratepayers fear more debt

Kaipara ratepayers fear more debt

Kaipara residents are disgusted by what they're describing as a paltry payout over the Mangawhai wastewater debacle.

Kaipara District Council took a claim against the Auditor-General for failing to intervene in the botched Mangawhai wastewater scheme, after its cost blew out from $35 million to $57m.

The council raised rates to try and cover it, but faced a backlash from residents. At one point, more than 10 percent of ratepayers were refusing to pay.

Councillors were replaced by commissioners, who took the Auditor-General to court claiming its office failed to blow the whistle on poor auditing of the council's finances.

An out-of-court settlement of about $5.3m has now been reached, but Mangawhai Residents Association chair Bruce Rogan says that's no cause for celebration.

"My view is that the reason for the settlement at this time is in order to enable the Kaipara District Council to get into the Local Government Funding Agency and put the district into even more debt," he says.

The council's ability to borrow funds from the Local Government Funding Agency had been restricted for a number of years. It regained access in February.

Chairperson and commissioner John Robertson called it a vote of confidence in the council.

Kaipara locals have been saddled with rates increases of up to $3000, which Mr Rogan says is particularly challenging for elderly people on fixed incomes.

The settlement was reached without either side -- the council or the Auditor-General -- admitting liability.