Council cleared for house auction
NSW Local Government Minister Don Page has backed the process Lismore City Council followed in selling the home of an invalid pensioner over unpaid rates, saying the council appeared to have met the requirements of the Local Government Act.
The council sold the home of Christine Anderson at auction on May 14 despite her being an invalid pensioner with a mental illness and despite an 11th hour attempt to establish a payment plan with the council.
The Lismore Community Action Network, which acts as an unofficial council watchdog, has said it has legal advice suggesting the council may have unwittingly breached the Local Government Act by not advertising a change in policy when it waived a council policy preventing the sale of pensioners' homes over rates.
Council general manager Paul O'Sullivan has rejected that suggestion saying he believed the council acted appropriately.
Yesterday Mr Page, who is also the Member for Ballina and Minister for the North Coast, swung in behind Mr O'Sullivan, saying his advice from the Department of Local Government was that Lismore City Council had met all the requirements of the Local Government Act when it auctioned Ms Anderson's home.
Mr Page said a section of the Act allowed councils to “minimise the rate burden for pensioners”.
However, he added that section of the Act was optional.
The question of the council's policy regarding pensioners and the rules under which it carried out or altered council policies were matters for individual councils and did not impact on the Local Gov-ernment Act.