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Tweed Council may fight on to recover $351.40

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TWEED Shire Council is considering its options after a legal batttle over $351.40 ended this week in the local court.

The court dismissed a legal move from Tweed Shire Council to recover the debt from Councillor Katie Milne.

The $351.40 debt was incurred when Cr Milne was invoiced for a subpoena of documents for a proposed Chinderah Marina in 2006.

The subpoena was lodged prior to her election as a Tweed Shire councillor in 2008.

Cr Milne said after court that it was 'finally over'.

"For six, long years I have been advising Council that this bill was not legally valid. It was laid out in the court rules, and logical, that the original judgement for costs in the Land and Environment Court could not just be ignored and a greater amount imposed by either council or a local court," Cr Milne said.

"This was the advice of my legal advocate six years ago, and was also immediately apparent to two lawyers I ran this past.

"Thousands and thousands of dollars have been wasted through Council following the wrong process in this matter."

Cr Milne said the council needed to revamp the way it approaches conflict.

"By having a staff member trained in conflict resolution, and implementing proper mediation processes, it would greatly help avoid this unnecessary waste and angst, for both the community and the council," she said.

According to the council, this week's court hearing ruled the debt recovery action would have to be considered by the NSW Land and Environment Court because the subpoena was registered through the Land and Environment Court.

The council is preparing a formal procedure for staff to deal with subpoenas for information, to avoid a repeat of a current ongoing legal action to recoup outstanding costs.

"If council receives a court-issued subpoena for information, it is obliged by law to comply with that request," the council's director for technology and corporate services Troy Green said.

"The new procedures will guide staff to take the right steps to ensure Council can recoup the charges associated with providing these services.

"In the past, Council has acted in good faith that the people lodging the subpoenas will pay for the information they obtain, in accordance with the estimated costs they are quoted.

"In this case, while Ms Milne's subpoena had not complied with requirements, it was acted upon in good faith by Council with full expectation that the quoted costs would be met."

Officers will present a report to a future council meeting to consider any further action it might take to recoup the outstanding debt from Cr Milne.

Topics:  katie milne, tweed shire council



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