Biloxi In Showdown With Church Over Rent

The Living Water Ministries owns most of its Caillavet Street property. A court ordered the city to pay for part of the church.

"They paid $755,000 for 11-hundred square feet and the church is only on it by three foot and now they want to charge for that three foot and that parking lot $16,800 a year for property they don't even own 99 percent of it," says the church appraiser, Daniel Schroeder.

The city now owns part of the church bathrooms and nursery and a parking lot. Schroeder is the church's consultant and appraiser. He says the numbers just don't add up. He wants to see the city's most recent appraisal of the church property to justify charging $1,400 a month in rent.

"Please take your people in the back room and please make them explain without any smoke and mirrors where all the money went and what the deal is. I mean you owe that," Schroeder told the council.

The city council wants answers too, and voted to table the rent dispute. Biloxi's mayor says a court has ruled in the case and and he's trying to follow the law.

"I've been consistent in my administration over the Caillavet Street project all the way. I'm sorry the council is not consistent. They chose to table this and bring it back later on and I'm doing what I have to do by the law and I hope the council will do by the law," says Mayor A.J. Holloway.

Reverend Charles Copeland says whatever happens, his congregation vows to stay put.

"It's for the benefit of the people in the church. It's close where everybody can get to the church. If we have to try to find property somewhere else we don't even have enough money to buy the property."

Copeland says he realizes other Caillavet Street landowners who the city bought out are paying rent. But Copeland says what the city wants his church to pay is outrageous.

The city council is expected to settle the dispute at its March 18th meeting.