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Scientologists announce plan to help community

Title: Scientologists announce plan to help community
Date: Wednesday, 22 October 1980
Publisher: St. Petersburg Times (Florida)
Author: Craig Roberton
Main source:

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CLEARWATER — Church of Scientology president Ken Whitman announced Tuesday a four-point plan to increase the church's contributions to the community.

At a morning press conference in the former Sandcastle Motel, which the Scientologists bought last year, Whitman said the church will begin a $50,000 facelift of the former Bank of Clearwater, purchased by the church in 1975.

He said workers this week will begin repairing the roof, repainting the building, adding planters, including small trees, in front of the building, at 500 Cleveland St.

Other parts of the plan, which Whitman calls the "Community Interaction Program," call for:

* Creation of a church-run drug abuse program in Clearwater similar to one operated by Scientologists in California.

* Establishment of a $25,000 fund at the Bank of Clearwater from which the church will make charitable contributions to local groups.

* Reimbursing the community for services "in lieu of taxes."

Details of the tax plan will not be announced until November, Whitman said. He said the church may end up paying an amount equal to its local property tax bill, if a way can be found to do so without conceding that the church is taxable.

Last year, the Church of Scientology paid $126,753.82 in back taxes in what it called "a gesture of good will." At that time, Whitman promised that the church would make other "contributions" to the community for services provided.

But Pinellas County Property Appraiser Ron Schultz considered that nothing more than an admission of taxability. The church had lost various court appeals of its Pinellas County tax bills, Schultz said, and knew it would have to pay anyway.

Whitman said details of the drug abuse and charity programs also will be announced later.

[Picture / Caption: Artist's rendering of proposed facelift for the former Bank of Clearwater building.]