CAPE CORAL, Fla. - For years, churches in Cape Coral got a discount on the price to hook up to city water and sewer. But that could change.
A special city meeting was held Wednesday to talk about the utillities expansion project in the Southwest 6 and 7.
Churches could have to pay full price for the for a project that's set to break ground in a new section by the summer.
Mike Carter is pastor of Cape Coral Assembly of God. He, and his wife, Candice say their church has many outreach programs. One of those is a food pantry that feeds 1,500 to 2,000 people a month.
"Our hope is that the city will consider what they've done in the past with the discounts," she said.
They're concerned those programs will be harmed if they have to pay full price for the UEP.
In the 90s, a group of churches reached a settlement with the city: agreeing churches would get a discount, in part, because of what they do for the community. But according to a new resolution, that discount is no longer on the table.
"Our attorney basically said every assessment area starts anew," said councilwoman Rana Erbrick. Erbrick believes everyone, churches and homeowners alike, need to pay what she calls "the fair share."
"I think if you own that property and it's yours, and there are pipes running in front of you, I think you need to be much more of a contributor than the institutional properties in the past have been," she said.
The UEP payments could be divided by your property size. The Carters say their church sits on 8 acres, much more than an average home.
"As far as asking a church or even a school to pay their fair share, due to what we offer to the community, is just irrelevant," Mike Carter said.
The vote Wednesday lays the groundwork for the project. We won't know how much it will officially cost people until the summer.