Local pastors interrupt Milwaukee Common Council meeting to demand the city stop taxing churches

NOW: Local pastors interrupt Milwaukee Common Council meeting to demand the city stop taxing churches

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A group of local pastors broke out in song, interrupting the Milwaukee Common Council meeting Tuesday morning, Dec. 14, in hopes of getting their message across.

This group is demanding the city of Milwaukee immediately stop taxing churches.

"This tax and take of churches, it has to stop," Pastor Steven Tipton said.

Alongside Rev. Jesse Jackson, some members of this group met with Mayor Tom Barrett a couple of weeks ago. Barrett clarified the city follows state law, which says churches need to file the proper paperwork in order to be considered tax exempt.

Sen. Lena Taylor criticized the way Milwaukee is implementing the state law.

"This is not about passing the buck to say it's a state form and it's the state," Taylor said. "This is the city and this is the leadership that is doing and choosing how this matter is being handled."

Common Council President Cavalier Johnson made it clear this topic was not up for discussion at Tuesday's meeting.

"I think all alders understand the urgency of the topic. That's why it was introduced as a communication file at the last Finance and Personnel Committee (meeting). We'll make sure if you guys want it heard there again, then we will," Johnson said.

Alderwoman Milele Coggs and Alderman Russell Stamper are asking the inspector general to investigate the city assessor's process.

"We can look step-by-step to see. It's easy to write this off as just an issue about proper paperwork. There may be more to it," Coggs said.

They hope the investigation leads to clarification and change.

"Just be patient. We are working on it. They have our ear," Stamper said.

Barrett's office told CBS 58 he did what he committed to do by reaching out to the city attorney on the matter. The city attorney told CBS 58 he was planning to send his response Tuesday afternoon.

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