Ratepayers foot court costs bill

By ALLAN McNEILallanm@gladstoneobserver.com.au

GLADSTONE ratepayers are having to foot the bill for thousands of dollars worth of court costs each year.

Council is taken to the Planning and Environment Court when a party opposes a development decision.

At the last Council meeting it was discovered that even if the other party (who initiates the appeal process) decides to pull out of the court case, Council still has to pay the associated costs.

Councillor Chris Trevor, who is also a local solicitor, said he did not know of any other court where that was the case.

'Usually if they pull out of the appeal they wear the cost,' Cr Trevor said.

Council planning manager Andrew Kearns said Council had faced six Planning and Environment Court appeals in the past 12 months, with some costing $30,000 to $40,000.

The outcome of that is the planning and environment costs for Council could exceed $100,000 a year, which then comes out of ratepayers' pockets.

Mr Kearns said it wasn't just the court costs associated with withdrawn appeals, but also the time taken preparing for the appeal.

Cr Trevor said he would approach the government to try and change the laws so Council would not have to foot the bill if the other party pulled out of the appeals process in the future.

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