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Councils told to stop flouting the law – NZSTA

Media Release

Councils told to stop flouting the law – NZSTA

The New Zealand School Trustees Association is warning that legal action will be taken against local councils that continue to impose illegal rate charges on school houses occupied by staff.

The warning comes in wake of reports that at least 13 local councils are continuing to rate school houses despite a ruling that reveals this is illegal.

Last year the issue was aired through a case in Northland and as a result a number of councils acknowledged that the rating of school houses is illegal.

However NZSTA President Chris France says it is extremely disappointing that some councils are ignoring this and are continuing to rate school houses.

“We had a successful legal challenge in the Invercargill High Court in July with the judgment ruling that Southland District Council had to pay back the previous five years rates that were collected illegally.

“This sends a clear message to other councils so NZSTA is outraged to learn that 13 other councils are continuing to persist in this illegal rating or are resisting repaying illegally collected rates from previous years.”

Chris France says NZSTA has aired its concern to Minister of Local Government Sandra Lee asking for her urgent intervention to put a stop to this illegal rating. NZSTA is also calling for schools to be given back the hundreds of thousands of dollars that is rightfully theirs.

He says if a resolution is not reached with the Minister then NZSTA will have no hesitation in taking legal steps against each of the local councils to recover the money owed to its member boards.

“The situation can not be allowed to continue any longer. The reality is that if local bodies are collecting rates illegally they have a clear legal responsibility to stop doing this immediately and to repay any money that is owed to schools.”

Chris France says the total amount owed to schools is unknown, but estimates it would be hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“Schools need every cent they have to ensure they are giving their students the best possible education they can get. That is why NZSTA will fight to get this money back from councils.”

[ends]

For more information contact Chris France. Phone: (025) 441-397.

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