February 13, 2016

Local Chamber of Commerce may lose its tax-exempt status

Danedri Thompson
The Southwest Johnson County Chamber of Commerce may no longer be a non-profit organization.
Chamber officials have not filed the form used by the Internal Revenue Service to designate tax-exempt organizations since 2009.
It’s been a year of big transformations for the local organization. In February, the group changed its name from the Gardner Area Chamber of Commerce to the Southwest Johnson County Chamber of Commerce. Members said the move was in order to expand its membership to include businesses at New Century and in Edgerton.
In March, Chamber president Steve Devore stepped down from the top leadership job at the organization.
Devore was hired to lead the Chamber in 2009. The chamber board has yet to hire his replacement.
According to a Chamber press release, board members met on April 5 to lay out a plan to upgrade the group’s financial record keeping. Members agreed to hire an outside accountant to file future tax-exempt forms and to seek recommendations to assure the organization’s future financial accountability.
“We will keep our members informed of our progress over the coming months and enlist their help and support in designing the new programs for the Southwest Johnson County Chamber,” the press release reads.
The Gardner Chamber of Commerce, Inc.,  was incorporated in 1975 by Charles Lay, David Matheny, and Darrell Sweem.
Several public entities contribute annual membership fees to the organization.
The city of Gardner pays $20,000 in annual fees to the group, and the city of Edgerton pays $300 in annual membership fees.

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