Rate-Payers Forced To Use The Courts To Correct Council Incompetence
'Water Rates Ruled Invalid' by Mark Oberhardt The Courier-Mail, 27/11/1999

THE Logan City Council might have to refund millions of dollars in water rates after the Supreme Court ruled its charges were invalid.

Hume Doors and Timber Pty Ltd, a Kingston-based timber door manufacturer and distributor, sued the council claiming it had no right to increase the company's half-yearly water charges from $405 to $12,500. The council made the increases, which included an access fee and a two-part tariff, from the half year beginning on July 1, 1998.

Justice Richard Chesterman ruled the water charges invalid and noted the relevant law contained restrictions upon the power to impose a two-part tariff.

He found the council's report into the new water tariffs did not fulfil the requirements of particularising the effect on consumption and revenue, the social and financial burden on ratepayers and what two-part tariff was recommended.

Justice Chesterman also found the council did not have the power under any other statutory authority to impose the charge.

Hume Doors and Timber general manager James Buckley said it was appalling that his company had to sue a local government authority because it had failed to comply with legislation.

He said he was annoyed that he and other Logan businessmen had to spend considerable time, money and effort to fight an obvious wrong.