From the Detroit News:
A balanced budget in Detroit might be something only prayed for, but few could imagine Motor City managers raiding church offering plates for revenue.
Yet new drainage fees from the city’s Water and Sewerage Department may do just that. [drainage fees … sigh]
Come October, the department will begin charging property owners differently. Some of those property owners currently pay an antiquated fixed rate, and others haven’t paid a storm water fee at all. But all property owners in Detroit will now pay based on acreage, which means fees will likely go up.
Eric Rothstein, a department program director, told The Detroit News last week that this type of charge is “commonly now used” to finance storm water management programs. Billing by acreage is a “trend (in) water resources financing,” he said.
More than 400 properties will see “a significant increase in billing of more than 200 percent per month,” says department director Gary Brown.
And several of those properties, Brown said, are owned by the Archdiocese of Detroit.
“It’s impacting us, and it’s not good news,” says Joe Kohn, the archdiocese’s director of public relations. The archdiocese owns 80 properties in Detroit, and 18 parishes have received letters from the water department with likely more to come. Five churches will have to come up with more than $1,000 extra per month. Two parishes will be billed an additional $2,000.
St. Charles Lwanga parish in Grand Meyer, for example, has an additional $2,385 to come up with every month. Its pastor, the Rev. Theodore Parker, says the new charge is an “injustice.” Because of the higher monthly water bill, the good priest worries, the parish’s soup kitchen may be forced to close its doors. [Intended or unintended consequences? When liberals run things, they want to force you into their paradigm or take over what you are doing.]
“I don’t know any city in America that does not charge for water,” Brown says.
But for decades, Chicago has offered a water waiver for churches and other nonprofits. [Even in such a crazy place.]
It was an estimated $20 million annual bill that in 2011 Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the city could no longer afford. But the late Cardinal Francis George, [RIP] previously the archbishop of Chicago, implied the mayor’s move may have had more to do with shutting down church services than tightening the city’s belt. [Yep.]
“If you don’t want a city that only has government institutions,” [There it is.] he said during negotiations over the exemption in April 2013, “then you have to see to the solvency of religious institutions and other nonprofits.”
Chicago councilmen were forced to work out a fair compromise with clergy. Churches with net adjusted assets of less than $1 million would be granted a 100 percent exemption. The waiver would decrease for parishes with bigger wallets.
Read the rest there.
This is an interesting new angle of attack on churches.