Local pastor weighs in on Ernie Chambers church tax bill

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By Tim McNicholas

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Updated: Mon, 27 Jan 2014 08:29:21 CST

Pastor Myron Meyer of Hastings sees advantages and disadvantages to First St. Paul's tax exemption.

He knows if his church had to pay property taxes, it could help the state gain revenue.

But he says the current system is effective.

"That would be monies that we would have to use to pay the government rather than doing more direct help to the people here in the community,” Meyer said.

Senator Ernie Chambers says they should pay their taxes...

Because that's what Jesus would want.

The Omaha Senator has introduced a bill that would do away with property tax exemption for Nebraska churches.

But Pastor Meyer doesn't think the bill will make it very far.

"I think in Nebraska we have some core values. Helping in the community and seeing the church as being an important part of most communities,” he said.

In Grand Island alone there are over 60 churches. The question is, if they were all paying taxes, how big of an impact would that make?

"The tax roll would increase. The valuation would increase.

And, assuming then, that the tax rate could be decreased,” Grand Island Chamber of Commerce President Cindy Johnson said.

But, Cindy Johnson agrees that the bill will be killed in committee.

Churches may be tax exempt...

But with dinners and shelter for the homeless...

They often provide other services beneficial to the state.

"Those services provided by the church have a value to the community. As with many things, that's a tradeoff,” Johnson said.

That bill is set for review Friday by the Legislature's Revenue Committee.

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