Northern Midlands Mayor David Downie. The Northern Midlands Council may pursue legal action in the Supreme Court against the owners of the Launceston Airport over a rates dispute.

Avaluation of the airport and its tenants was commissioned by the Federal Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development after the council began its “fair rates” campaign in November.

The valuation resulted in the airport makingan additional $63,868 payment, however the council sought further legal advice after the decision was handed down, citing a disparity in the new figure compared to the official figure given by the Tasmanian Valuer-General.

Northern Midlands Mayor David Downie said without urgent action the council could face a further loss of $285,000 rate income for the coming year, which would result in reduced services and delays to community projects.

“Council does not accept the department’s valuation on the basis that it does not accurately reflect all areas of the airport land subject to a rate equivalent payment, pursuant to the lease between the Commonwealth and the Australia Pacific Airports Corporation,” he said.

Cr Downie said pursuing the matter through the courts would be an “expensive process” which would be used as a last resort.

He said council was frustrated by the “apparent unwillingness” of the Commonwealth –as owners of the land –to take action.

In a statementthe Launceston Airport said ex-gratia rates payments had been made to the Northern Midlands Council every year since privatisation in 1998.

“It is disappointing that council has failed to accept the independent outcome and also the opportunity to work with Launceston Airport and address the matter together,” the statement said.

“Instead, Council continues to pursue a public campaign, including the display of repetitive signage in an attempt to bring the airport’s reputation into disrepute.

“The airport’s greater concern is the impression this negative campaign leaves in the minds of visitors to Tasmania and Northern Tasmania in particular.”

Cr Downie indicated the signs would remain in place for the immediate future.

The council is seeking urgent meetings with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Federal local government minister Paul Fletcher, Labortransport spokesman Anthony Albanese, and Tasmanian politicians.

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