Letter to Council
LETTER TO COUNCIL 17.12.12
Below is a draft of a letter that you can use to send to Council in response to its demands for payment of rates.
For the reasons set out below Council cannot take anyone to court. So, courage, be brave, dig your toes in and send off the letter
We must keep telling the commissioners that we refuse to be held responsible for the deception and illegalities of the Council. We are not going to be an easy target. Those who are legally responsible for the financial crisis must be identified and made legally liable.
One doesn't have to be a rocket scientist to know who they are.
Modify the letter as you see fit and to suit yourself.
To: the commissioners
I refer for your request to pay outstanding rates and make the following comments:.
Rates are illegal
I note that the Salter report identified illegal rates over the past six years and a subsequent secret report from Salter identified additional illegal rates. There was an apology from the Mayor for the illegal rates.
I note that it is nearly a year since the illegal rates were first acknowledged by Council but no action has been taken by Council to identify with certainty which rates are legal and which are illegal.
John Robertson's recently acknowledged in his letter to ratepayers:
Commissioners absolutely accept that in the past (prior to 2012/13 rating year) there were significant issues with rates. We are working to resolve those issues as quickly as we can.
In a recent press release he stated that the rates were:
"a dog’s breakfast of procedural and technical failings".
Some rates are clearly illegal and the Salter report makes it clear that they would be declared invalid by the court. The fact that Council is planning to go through a validation process is a clear acknowledgement that the rates are invalid.
Assessments and invoices invalid
I also note that Council has acknowledged that the rates assessments were invalid . This is confirmed by Chief Executive Steve Ruru in his recent report on the validation of illegal rates.
It is a clear principle of law that a ratepayer is not responsible for the payment of rates until a correct rates assessment and a correct rates invoice is delivered to him. Both must be in the form and include the information set out in the Rating Act and must set out clearly the amount of rates legally payable.
Council has failed to do a that.
Council has had ample time to identify with certainty which rates are legal and which are illegal. Having done that it should have re-assessed all the properties in the district and issued new correct assessment and new correct invoices.
Not established that the rates are due and payable
Council cannot issue legal proceedings for the recovery of the rates because it has failed to provide an invoice setting out the rates that are legally due.
On the contrary, it acknowledges that the rates invoices include rates which are possibly illegal, and that the form of the assessment is invalid. That is not acceptable to the courts. Council cannot make guesses. It cannot go on a fishing expedition. It cannot promise to sort the matter out at a later date.
Council ha a legal obligation to set rates in accordance with the law and to invoice assess and invoice the rates according to the law. If it fails to do that it has no right to collect the rates.
The right of set-off
It appears that Council may owe me monies for illegal rates that I have paid in the past. I note that Council is hoping to have those rates validated sometime in the future. With respect, that is irrelevant. At the present time the rates are invalid and I have every right in law to have the monies paid for illegal rates credited to my rating account. I should only be liable for the balance owing.
Willingness to pay legal rates
I have never defaulted in paying my rates before but I refuse to pay rates in the present circumstances where Council is clearly acting outside the law.
I will, however, happily pay my rates when you provide me with an accurate assessment on my property and an invoice based strictly on the rates that I am legally obliged to pay. You will, of course, also need to deduct a credit for illegal rates that I have paid in earlier years.