Riverdale, Illinois already has money trouble, but at least they’re getting about $50,000 a year in property tax from a nearby lot that sits vacant.
Now, the Israel of God church wants to build on that land. That could mean even further devastation for the community:
“Someone has to pay for it, and we have to make up for those monies in some way,” [Riverdale Mayor Deyon] Dean said. “When you look at it, this may increase fees for many things — for public safety, for stickers, for other things that we don’t want to have to increase.”
“We don’t need no church. We have a church sitting at least 100 yards away,” said Riverdale resident Ken Allen, who is among those who oppose the plans for the mega-church.
It’s not because of religious objections, but economic concerns.
“Is that church gonna give us jobs?” he said. “That’s what we need out here. We need work. We need employment We have too much people out here unemployed.”
It reminds me of Stafford, Texas, where the city of seven square miles has 51 churches and counting… and they’ve suffered because of it.
The church argues that they’re bringing thousands of people through their doors each week who (theoretically) have money to spend… so it’ll be good for the community. But no doubt a retail store would make better business sense — It’d mean more jobs (including jobs for people the church won’t hire, like non-Christians and gay people), payment of property taxes (which the church doesn’t have to pay), and it’d be a draw for people from outside Riversale who want to spend money in the area (instead of just handing it over to a church). Hell, maybe the local waiters and waitresses would even get real tips.
The wrench in the argument is that there are currently no signs of retail stores or other businesses trying to buy that vacant lot.
(Thanks to James for the link)