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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -
New Hope Church is paying $775,000 to settle a lawsuit by local activist Mitch Kahle, Hawaii News Now has learned.
The payments were disclosed in filings in state Circuit Court by New Hope's parent organization, the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel.
Most of the money will go to the state's school system but a big chunk -- about $200,000 -- will go to Kahle for pursuing the lawsuit, which accuses New Hope and several other churches of underpaying the state to rent school facilities.
"We were absolutely subsidizing them. The state was subsidizing the churches for many, many years," said Kahle.
John Tilton, New Hope's executive pastor, could not be reached.
As part the deal, New Hope admits no wrongdoing. The church previously said it agreed to make the payments because it was better to support the school system than pay for a costly legal battle.
In his lawsuit, Kahle and partner Holly Huber charged that New Hope shortchanged the state $4.6 million for the use of various school facilities over six years.
That includes $3.2 million in underpayments for the use of Farrington High School, the suit said. The suit was filed by attorney Jim Bickerton.
Kahle noted that school rules require that the D.O.E. charge higher rents but he said those rules were undermined by the Board of Education Chair Donald Horner.
"When Donald Horner came on when the appointed the board came on, those recommendations to amendments to Chapter 39 were tabled, they neglected, they were ignored," he said.
Besides New Hope, Kahle's lawsuit names several other churches for not paying enough rent. Kahle's attorneys plan to file an amended suit against those churches.