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NFM Civic Association: Tax exemptions, air conditioners and the Lee County Arts Center

By Staff | Jun 6, 2018

Time for a status change! When the North Fort Myers Civic Association was formed the IRS assigned it a 501(c)(4) tax exemption. What does this mean? It is tax exempt, pays no taxes on income/donations.

Good news.

Bad news is, that exempt designation does not allow donations to be tax deductible! And, of course, folks are a lot more likely to contribute to an organization when the donations are tax deductible. Last column I discussed why the Association needs money. Insurance, funds for civic/charitable programs like scholarships, infrastructure support for low income residents, etc. If the Civic Association is primarily involved with charitable projects (and yes civic endeavors can also be charitable, but the IRS gets very picky, so terminology is everything) it can obtain, in our case change status, to a 501 (c)(3). After the change donations will be tax deductible. I was asked to undertake the “conversion’ process, as an attorney who has filed dozens of IRS exempt applications. So, I’ll keep everyone advised of my progress.

And, talking about the exciting world of tax exemptions, the Civic Association’s sister organization, the Lee County Arts Center, has its own application pending with the IRS. It should be granted in the next few months. So stay tuned. The LCAC is also 1) starting a building fund and 2) planning an Inaugural Art Walk. It currently has no home. Its Board meets in the offices of Sun Country Realty thanks to the generosity of Sun Country’s owner, Marion Briggs, who is also the Vice President of the LCAC. The Art Walk, co-sponsored by the Sewing Boutique, will be held at Hancock Square, tentatively scheduled for July 28. Expect more news on this event.

So now I can segue to Hancock Square without missing a beat! The owner does anticipate repurposing the site, not selling or simply demolishing. The LCAC may actually rent temporary space there while it collects building fund contributions. For those of you who don’t follow Rachel Busch and the County Economic Development Office (I know, that’s most of my readers) Lee County Commissioners rezoned parts of Lee County to “mixed use overlay.” Hancock Square is one of those areas. This means rather than the site being limited to retail space, it can also include commercial and even residential (think condos going up five or six stories overlooking the river). Think about folks living there and small businesses emerging to serve those residents (and the rest of us). Some of the Hancock Square residents might even be hired to work at the new establishments. Imagine, walking to work! All this is certainly a ways off but a realistic goal of the owner, Lee County, the Civic Association, Art Center, Chamber, and Rotary.

Progress on our website. Yay! The new website address is NFMCivic.com. Please visit us. Also join our Facebook page by going to the website and click on the Facebook link at the bottom of the page.

The newly formed Community Coalition (Remember – North Fort Myers Rotary, Chamber, and Civic Association) in conjunction with Ellsworth Heating and Cooling will help three deserving North Fort Myers residents/families. Ellsworth (located on Old US 41 in North Fort Myers) generously offered three brand new air conditioning units (including installation) to the Coalition to donate. So, if you know someone special, someone who 1) resides in North Fort Myers, 2) is in need of a new replacement A/C unit, 3) is financially unable to afford one and 4) especially deserving of community help, we’d like to know. Some criteria for you to consider:

1) The recipient must reside in North Fort Myers.

2) The recipient must own and reside at the home the unit is to be installed. That is, no rental units.

3) The unit being replaced must be a minimum of 10 years old.

4) A written statement on why the family or resident is deserving.

Members of the NFM Community Coalition will then review the applicants and select the recipients. You may apply for yourself or you may apply for someone you feel deserving of this generous gift. Please send a statement via our website at NFMCivic.com. Click on the “contact us” link. It’s that simple. Please, do not contact Ellsworth directly. I know it’s hard to toot your own horn but please do, and if you really can’t, have a friend do so. Deadline for applications will be June 30, 2018.

Please join us at our next meeting, June 12, the second Tuesday of the month (and my birthday). Remember, we changed our meeting time. Now, it is 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the North Fort Myers Rec Center, 2000 N. Recreation Park Way, North Fort Myers. Hopefully more of you can/will attend. We want ideas and – volunteers! Look forward to seeing you there.