TampaBay Online: Clearwater is so strapped for cash that city leaders have eliminated 86 jobs, cut library hours, and raised the property tax rate. Parks and recreation workers even stopped flying the American flag for a few days over 13 city landmarks to save a few bucks.
But one step city managers have not taken to make ends meet is to force city code violators, including the Church of Scientology, to pay the $3.4 million in fines they owe.
Construction began in 1999 and stopped in 2004 on the church's 380,000-square-foot Mecca Building [or better known as the Super Power Building] at 215 St. Ft. Harrison. Two years later, the city's municipal code enforcement board began assessing fines because the church was out of compliance with a permit that required active construction to finish the exterior shell.
The debt has been growing at a rate of $250 a day since June 26, 2006, according to city records.
But like the other code enforcement liens recorded in official records, no one is trying to collect this debt. City policy is to refrain from pursuing construction permit fines until the permit comes back into compliance, which hasn't happened.
The city even granted the church two new construction permits this year without resolving the fine over the first one. "They owe the money in question," said Mayor Frank Hibbard. "The question is what will they owe in total by the time they actually come into compliance."
Hibbard said he expects the church to complete work on the Mecca building's exterior within four to six weeks, at which time he says the church will formally come into compliance and the fines will become due. "They have a right to go to the code enforcement board and ask for a reduction in those fines." Hibbard said. "Our guidance to the code enforcement board is they need to be paid in full."
Hibbard said he and City Manager Bill Horne held a private meeting with Scientology's board Chairman David Miscavige about a year and a half ago and told him the fines are not negotiable. "I've made that known to their leadership that we expect those fines to be paid in full," Hibbard said.
Church spokesman Peter Mansell did not confirm the amount but said the church does intend to settle matters with the city eventually.
Eventually... Nothing New To Scientology
In the FOX2 News video below,from Farmington Hills, MI, you can see how Scientology treats a contractor that it owes money too for work done on their air conditioning system. This's only a few hundred dollars, so you can just imagine how much David Miscavige is willing to part with $3.4 million.