Church leaders, non-profits oppose changing water fees - FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV

Church leaders, non-profits oppose changing water fees

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Chicago churches and non-profits are concerned that paying more for city water will impact the work they're able to do. But they may reach a compromise with the city after Tuesday.

Drinking water, washing machine water, even the kind of water you use to keep your lawn fresh – whatever the use may be – the water wars are on in the City of Chicago. Nonprofits, churches and other agencies like them are trying to come to an understanding with the city.

Mayor Emanuel fired the first figurative shot several months ago, when he said it was time to revisit the Chicago's policy of not charging nonprofits for the water they use. Emanuel believes it's an outdated policy which was formulated around a budget that simply doesn't exist for the city anymore. He said it's time for Chicago to change that policy and make changes to that service.

A coalition of multi-denominational church leaders gathered at St. Paul's Church of God and Christ at 45th and Wabash Tuesday morning, to express their opposition. That group also includes Cardinal Francis George.

"The city needs to balance its budget - as do we all," Cardinal George said. "But not-for-profits have very slim budgets. ‘The power to tax is the power to destroy.' It's an American saying. So I think we have to go back to the city - which is run by reasonable people who have the good of everyone at heart - and say that the presence of these small communities is part of the common good of the city. We're in food desserts. We're in medical desserts. We're with the people."

"The people will hurt if, in fact, these churches can't continue to perform their services because they have no money," the cardinal concluded.

Some strong, powerful voices stand in opposition to Emanuel's desire to change the policy on tax exempt service for water usage.

Alderman Howard Brookins also attended The Interfaith Coalition to Restore the Water Fee Exemption's press conference. How much sway the group holds with the mayor and City Council remains to be seen.

"We provide services that enhance and improve the quality of life for all of the people in the City of Chicago," one leader said. "Consideration must be made that this onerous water fee must be repealed."

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