September 16, 2014

Medina
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Accountants: Commissioners’ charity ball donations tax-deductible

MEDINA — Local accountants say money raised through the annual Medina County Commissioners’ Charity Ball is tax-deductible, even though the ball doesn’t have nonprofit 501(c)3 status.

Dave McCarthy, a certified public accountant with Rea & Associates, and Brett Thomas, a CPA with S. C. Thomas & Associates, said because commissioners used a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization to maintain custody of the funds and to distribute them, the money is tax-deductible, even though the donors’ checks were made out to the Commissioners’ Charity Ball.

This year, commissioners had an agreement with Medina County Animals Rescue that the more than $23,000 raised at the 15th annual ball in January would be deposited into the nonprofit’s bank account and from there checks would be issued to the six organizations chosen to receive funds.

Five charities received a check without incident, but the check issued to the Lodi Railroad Museum bounced.

“The funds were put into the wrong account,” Aliss Strogen of Medina County CARE has said. “It’s been corrected and a correct check has been sent to them.”

Joanne Slorgie, a trustee of the Lodi Railroad Museum, spoke at the commissioners meeting Tuesday, informing them her organization would not cash the $3,873 check it received because she didn’t think the money was tax-deductible. She also has questioned why commissioners do not have their own 501(c)3

“I didn’t think it was legal and I didn’t want my group to get in trouble,” she said.

When the first check bounced, Slorgie went to Lodi police, who are investigating.

Police Chief Keith Keough said he’s been trying to reach the woman from CARE who signed the check, but no one is returning his calls.

CARE’s nonprofit status has been put on hold since the group’s registration expired in June and paperwork wasn’t completed to renew registration.

“None of the commissioners would ever get involved in anything illegal,” county Commissioner Pat Geissman said. “One of the deposits got into the wrong checking account.”

Geissman also said commissioners started the filing process to become a nonprofit 501(c)3 more than a year ago so they would no longer have to choose a nonprofit organization to distribute the money raised at their charity ball.

Commissioners didn’t file for nonprofit status 15 years ago when they started the charity ball because they were advised by county Assistant Prosecutor William Thorne to partner with an already established nonprofit organization and have that organization distribute the annual funds, Geissman said.

Thorne could not be reached for comment Thursday.

County Prosecutor Dean Holman said his office wasn’t involved with this year’s charity ball and offered no advice to commissioners this year.

Contact reporter Katie Anderson at (330) 721-4012 or kanderson@medina-gazette.com.