Rates challenge thwarted

A TWEED accountant who has been battling in the courts for the past three years to block Tweed Shire Council rate rises has lost his appeal to the High Court of Australia.

The court last week refused an application by Terry Sharples to appeal against the Supreme Court of NSW decision last year against his challenge to the NSW Minister for Local Government's approval of the council's seven-year plan allowing exceptional rate rises. The plan, produced in 2006, includes rate rises above the yearly cap applied to other council areas.

This year council rates rose by up to 7.5% – well above the 2.8% cap which applied in most other council areas in NSW. The plan has this year and next financial year to run.

In February it was revealed ratepayers could have to foot a bill “well in excess of $400,000” as the council continued to defend its seven-year-plan from a continuing challenge from Mr Sharples.

That challenge appears to have been exhausted following the High Court's decision to disallow a further application and award costs against Mr Sharples. However a council spokeswoman would only say: “The only comment council would be making based on this is that costs have yet to be assessed.

“Council will be pursuing these costs and a report will be prepared for a future council meeting.”

In February the council's corporate services director Troy Green told councillors the costs were likely to be “well in excess of $400,000”, even though the council had been winning.

Mr Sharples, who began the court challenge to the rate rises in 2008, applied to the High Court three days before Christmas last year for leave to appeal after an earlier plea to the NSW Court of Appeals was dismissed.

Mr Sharples could not be contacted for comment.



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