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City of Magnolia Agrees to Settle Dispute with Churches Regarding Water Fees

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December 16, 2021

News Release
For Immediate Release: 12.16.21
Contact: Lacey McNiel, media@firstliberty.org
Direct: 972-941-4453

City of Magnolia Agrees to Settle Dispute with Churches Regarding Water Fees
Attorneys with First Liberty Institute to dismiss lawsuit brought by local churches after city agrees to treat them equally.

Magnolia, TX—Attorneys with First Liberty Institute and the law firm Baker Botts representing churches in Magnolia, Texas announced that the City of Magnolia, Texas has approved an agreement requiring the City to reclassify its water rate structure and treat “all religious organizations, religious non-profits, churches, or houses of worship” equally with commercial businesses.  In exchange, the churches represented in the petition, Magnolia Bible Church, Magnolia’s First Baptist Church, and Believers Fellowship, have agreed to dismiss their lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the city’s existing water rate scheme.

“Churches and non-profits provide a multitude of services to their communities, particularly for the most vulnerable,” said Aaron Streett, Partner at Baker Botts, “This joint agreement will allow both the city and all the religious organizations of Magnolia to build a stronger community.”

“Our clients are thrilled that, because of this agreement, they can turn to what they do best: care for their community in partnership with the City,” said Jeremy Dys, Special Counsel for Litigation and Communications for First Liberty.

The agreement follows nearly three years of litigation over whether the City of Magnolia’s rate structure lawfully treated religious organizations, including churches, less favorably than for-profit businesses.

“We are grateful that churches and all religious organizations in Magnolia will now be treated equally along with area businesses by the City of Magnolia,” said Dr. Steve Burrell, Senior Pastor of Magnolia Bible Church.  “We are eager to work with the City Council to continue to improve the lives of our friends and neighbors.”

Following Tuesday evening’s vote to approve the agreement, and within five (5) days after entry of a final judgment by the district court, the churches will dismiss their lawsuit.

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About First Liberty Institute

First Liberty Institute is the largest legal organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to defending religious freedom for all Americans.

To arrange an interview, contact Lacey McNiel at media@firstliberty.org or by calling 972-941-4453.

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