Churches in Magnolia are calling the city's new water fee schedule unfair and discriminatory. City Council last month approved a new water rate account category which raises rates on schools, churches and other non-profits.
“Churches' water bills doubled or tripled in some cases in the months of April and May just out of the blue,” says Dave Welch with the Houston Area Pastor Council.
“City Council unfortunately just doesn't get it,” he says. “It's one of these small communities where they're listening to consultants instead of the citizens and taxpayers.”
Welch says Magnolia ISD estimates water rates will cost the district hundreds of thousands of dollars. Calls seeking comment from the district were not returned.
His group has contacted state lawmakers and is considering legal action.
“The city administrator openly said they are increasing that rate higher for non-profits because they are tax exempt from property and sales tax,” he says.
Magnolia City Administrator Paul Mendes issued a statement saying, “Upon a recent periodic water rate review, the City found Institutional/Tax-Exempt/Non Profit accounts were actually paying less than residents. The new rates ensure that citizens are not subsidizing Institutional/Tax-Exempt/Non Profit entities.
“The City strives to provide the best water service possible to our customers with fair and even water rates.”