While churches, like other non-profits, do not need to pay taxes, they still use the exact same city funds as everyone else. (If the church across the road in the caught fire, you can bet you would want firefighters to put it out immediately.) Same with any offense on church property; the town authorities will come in to investigate.
How does the city pay for this protection once the churches are not paying taxes? Simple. (The churches are welcome to train and provide their own firefighters, by way of instance, provided they meet all necessary standards, but that would be a hell of a lot more complex, as well as expensive.)
There are areas where churches are exempt from paying even these fees, but so long as they are assessed just like everyone else, there is really no legal problem with asking them to pay the costs of being a part of a bigger community. That is just part of public security.
In Fort Walton Beach, Florida, city officials have advocated an “annual fire evaluation of 5 cents per square foot” for many non-profits. However, some churches in the region are acting like this is especially damaging their ability to convert individuals.
However, some churches in the region are acting like this is especially damaging their ability to convert individuals. At 5 cents per square foot, the church could be billed an annual fire charge of $6,100.
That amount would cover for plenty of community assignments, [Rev. Howard] Gates said.
City officials say the fire charge isn’t a tax and could be billed to the 37 tax-exempt churches in Fort Walton Beach.
1 minister even confessed she used the fire department in the past but still did not want to pay the fee:
“I have had to call on them for assistance before, and I love their efficacy,” Schuler said. “But it is too bad (city officials) can not look at what we do to help the community and recognize we do our fair share.”
That might be the best debate in prefer of this fee. If cities were to rank non-profits by non-tangible items they supplied, which variables should be weighted on top? It’s only a ridiculous thought experiment as there’s no ideal answer.
The best thing to do would be to charge everyone the exact same way.
Fort Walton Beach has not decided what to do just yet. They are still gathering information. But this should not be contentious.
Image via Shutterstock.
Credit: Also see this article..