The Wellington Community Foundation will become a private organization, if the federal government approves.
Wellington Council members voted unanimously Monday to relinquish all control over the village’s not-for-profit foundation and turn it into an independent charity with no ties to the Wellington government.
Because such a change would affect the foundation’s tax-exempt status, the village needs approval from the Internal Revenue Service before the separation becomes official.
Village finance director Tanya Quickel estimated it could take two months to hear back from the IRS once the request is made.
The foundation — with the Village Council serving as its governing board — was established in 2009 to raise money for Wellington capital projects, namely Scott’s Place barrier-free playground and the village’s 9/11 Patriot Memorial. But Palm Beach County ethics laws enacted since then prohibit the council from raising money on the foundation’s behalf.
The organization fell by the wayside when the board of directors hadn’t met in two-and-a-half years prior to last month. In November, the council delayed its decision on what to do with the foundation because the board appeared headed for a deadlocked vote, with the absence of Councilman Howard Coates.
In contrast, on Monday, the absence of another council member — Matt Willhite — didn’t affect the 4-0 outcome. The rest of the board was in agreement that privatizing the foundation, rather than dissolving it altogether, would allow its charitable purpose to continue without a conflict of interest by the elected council.
“I think keeping it private and letting it operate separately would be a better way to go, and at the end of the day, the foundation would be more effective as a fundraiser,” Coates said.
The council voted to leave $10,000 in the foundation’s coffers toward future operational expenses. The remaining $43,000 is to be dispersed evenly between the playground and the Patriot Memorial.
Each council member also has 45 days to appoint someone to serve on the foundation’s new, independent board of directors.