The Central Blair Recreation & Park Commission continues to fight for a designation from the Internal Revenue Service that would allow it to receive tax-deductible donations.
The delay for the council of governments to become a 501(c)(3) organization is the reluctance of the Altoona Area School District to accept full legal responsibility for the commission’s potential actions, unlike other government participants – the city and Logan Township, according to a commission official.
The committee is considering whether to create a foundation as an alternative means of becoming eligible for such tax-deductible donations.
The two principals who serve on the commission’s board of directors want to see the commission become a 501(c)(3), said Dave Francis, one of those principals.
But the school board needs to listen to its attorney, Francis said.
The IRS wants the commission’s participating governments to formally accept responsibility for the commission’s potential actions, because government boards like the commission are not independent like authorities or nonprofits, according to the attorney for the Dan Stants commission.
The three participating governments are actually already liable, but the IRS needs to see it in writing “so it’s clear” Stants said.
The type of language the district wishes to submit to the IRS is unlikely to be approved by that agency, as it attempts “keep some responsibility” on the commission, Stants said.
The point of the IRS requirement is to show that the organization in question is “protected,” he said.
Yet the school district attorney remains “optimistic” the question can be solved.
“We just had some wording issues with the language that (the commission) came up with,” said school district attorney Liz Benjamin.
She disagreed that the district can be called a “reluctant or opposed” to the commission becoming a 501(c)(3), Benjamin said.
Why can’t parties “come together and understand this,” asked Ed Frontino, commission board member and Logan Township Supervisor.
The IRS designation is “incredibly vital” for the commission to get the funding it needs to achieve its goals, because that creates an incentive for donations, Frontino said.
A comprehensive plan created for the commission recently recommends that the commission seek 501(c)(3) designation as a way to help counter what the plan’s consultant sees as persistent underfunding.
For now, the commission’s executive director, Mike Hofer, planned to contact the Central Pennsylvania Community Foundation to find out what the commission should do to establish a fund within that organization.
The Mirror’s staff writer, William Kibler, is at 814-949-7038.