Give decision to councillors
ANY future decision to sell a person's home for unpaid rates should go back to councillors and not be delegated to the general manager, Lismore City Council's Deputy Mayor Simon Clough said yesterday.
Cr Clough will propose the change in policy at today's council meeting as the legality of the sale of invalid pensioner Christine Anderson's home is due to be heard by the Supreme Court over two days from Thursday.
Cr Clough said the reason for the proposed change was sparked by the controversial auction of Ms Anderson's home for unpaid rates totalling $16,000, including legal fees.
“I wouldn't have voted for the sale to go ahead (if it had gone back to council),” he said yesterday.
“The proximity to an issue like that is a great aid to clearer thinking and the fact that you are taking full responsibility for it.”
Cr Clough's motion proposes the policy takes into account legislative requirements, council's rates and its hardship policy in consultation with councillors.
Then, a final report would be presented to councillors “immediately prior” to any sale.
In Ms Anderson's case the decision to sell her home was made in October with the final decision delegated to then-general manager Paul O'Sullivan.
The sale did not proceed until May.
“With the previous situation it was remote, there was such a gap between the decision being made and the reality (the sale),” Cr Clough said.
“I think councillors need to be in a position where they have much more current information and take full responsibility for decisions of that nature.”
Mrs Anderson's lawyers will argue in court she had entered a payment plan with council to pay off the overdue rates and she was denied natural justice.