I am a retired solicitor who for many years had my own legal practice specialising mainly in conveyancing (buying and selling houses and businesses, mortgages, leases etc).
At the end of 2008 my wife and I bought a holiday home in Mangawhai and we thought we had arrived in Paradise. That has turned out to be the case except for one thing: the Kaipara District Council.
When we bought the property there was a problem with the historical use of the property and some query about permits issued by the Otamatea County Council. We also noted that the property was being levied two lots of EcoCare rates because the KDC had deemed the separate extension to our very small original bach to be a separate rateable entity under the EcoCare Scheme.
We thought that this matter could be easily resolved with Council. We expected an open, sensible, pragmatic approach from a small Council. We were sadly disillusioned. I won't go into the details but those ratepayers who have had some issues with the Council will be well aware of the unfortunate attitude that our Council has towards resolving problems.
I made lengthy legal submissions to Council concerning our problems but got no substantive response.
Council's only advice was that it had its own formula to establish what was a second unit under the EcoCare Scheme and that this approach was supported by statute and case law. But, when asked, the KDC would not reveal its secret formula or let me know the statutory provisions or case law that supported its approach.
I suspected that Council was fudging the situation and probably acting illegally, so I decided to do some legal research and get myself up to date with the law relating to the levying of rates.
I was fortunate in that the whole rating system changed in 2003. The Rating Powers Act that had governed the setting of rates for many years was repealed by the Local Government (Rating) Act 2002 (I will call this the Rating Act)and a new Local Government Act 2002 (I will call this the LGA).
These two new Acts changed the whole rating landscape. They introduced new types of rates, a fundamental change in the consultation process, and also brought in a totally new rating process for setting and assessing rates. This rating process consists of various sequential steps that are linked together, along with strict provisions that have to be followed by councils if they are to set valid rates.
This rating process is of fundamental importance and the reader will come across the term many times in the articles that I have written.
On the right of this page, and at the bottom as well, are the various articles that I have written relating to the EcoCare rates.
Other articles by Legal Eagle:
Q&A: Frequently asked questions about EcoCare rates with answers from Legal Eagle.
Invalid rates: a summary of why the EcoCare rates are invalid.
McKerchar unit of demand resolution: The resolution and why it was passed.
McKerchar unit of demand resolution - legal analysis: An in-depth look at the legal aspects of this resolution.
EcoCare rates 2008-09 and 2009-10: A detailed analysis of why these rates are invalid.