Detroit church receives abandoned-building bill

Detroit church receives abandoned-building bill for more than $3K

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(WJBK) -

An old post office in Detroit has been converted to a place of worship, but the city of Detroit still believes it's an abandoned building and sent a bill to the church for more than three thousand dollars.

VIDEO: Click on the video player above to watch the story in a report from Fox 2's Randy Wimbley, or read the story below
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"I was told that somebody came in March and they didn't see anything except construction debris. Well, we're renovating the post office. Then I was told they came again on a Sunday in November and did not see any activity."

And Pastor Mike Hanafee of Restore Church in Detroit says that led to this: a "$3361.99 bill that we received last week."

Talk about sticker shock .

Pastor Hanafee says the tax exempt status for the post office-turned church building was good to go.

"We submitted all the official paperwork with all the requirements," Pastor Hanafee says. Then a field inspector claimed to have stopped by.

"Despite all the evidence, we were told that we actually had not been meeting at this building for the last 60 weeks, which is a great surprise to the 125 of us who gather here every Sunday," the pastor says.

Fox 2 found several  pictures of church services dating back to October of 2012 and video is from a worship service this past Sunday. So what gives?

Fox 2 contacted the city of Detroit Monday morning to get to the bottom of this property tax mix up but so far we haven't received a response, so we don't know which city inspector came to the building or what time for that matter.

"They must have come on Australian time because this building is a hub of activity from eight in the morning 'till two in the afternoon Sunday; the streets are lined; the parking lot is full; and we actually use the building Sunday nights as well for youth ministry," Pastor Hanafee explains.   

Pastor Hanafee has a better idea of what happened: "Whoever did the inspection apparently mailed it in. No pun intended."

Now Restore Church has to come up with three thousand dollars by the year's end or appeal to the state tax tribunal. Even so, Pastor Hanafee isn't down on Detroit, he, like most of the church's membership, live in the city.

"So we're not shooting at Detroit from the outside, we're trying to build it from within. But we are discerning a broken system, and for every situation like this there's 10 thousand that no one knows about it, but people are getting hurt and there are personal stories of pain behind them," Pastor Hanafee says.

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