River Forest Community Center's nonprofit status temporarily pulled

Paperwork snafu results in group's info taken off state database

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By Deborah Kadin

A paperwork snafu has prompted the Illinois Attorney General's Office to cancel the charitable status of the River Forest Community Center, an agency spokeswoman said on March 30.

In early February, the Charitable Trust Bureau informed the community center in writing that it needed to refile its 2016 annual financial statement because the initial documents were so illegible that they could not be posted on the bureau's listing of charitable groups.

The spokeswoman noted that low toner in a scanner could have caused the documents to be unreadable.

The bureau contacted the center again in early March, this time by phone, informing officials there that the agency's status could not be re-instated until the paperwork was re-filed. The spokeswoman did not know who the contact person was at the community center or who the state agency spoke with. She also wasn't sure of the date.

The charitable status will be restored once the center refiles and processes its paperwork. When that occurs, material about the center will be re-posted on the attorney general's charities database, which contains financial and other information about all the registered charities operating in Illinois.

 "When something is missing from a file, an organization is removed from the data base. The material was not readable," the spokeswoman said.

The news stunned the center's executive director Dick Chappelle, who was unaware of the error.

"This all comes as news to me," he said. "It should be a non-issue. I'll look into it."

The center was supposed to file its annual financial statement and IRS Form 990, by Sept. 30. The state received the documents on Nov. 28, and the community center paid a late fee, although the spokeswoman did not know how much it was.

The snafu was found on Feb. 9, when the state agency processed the paperwork. According to GuideStar, a website devoted to providing information on nonprofits, the last financial information about the organization was filed in 2015.

Illinois law requires charitable organizations to file annual financial reports with the attorney general's office. These reports help ascertain a charity's programs, activities, grants, finances and priorities. All the information is posted on the Charitable Database, which allows users to search for public charities and private foundations registered in Illinois.

Not having information in the database could make it difficult for the center to file for grants.

The community center is also called the Civic Center Authority Building, 8020 Madison St., which has been owned by the River Forest Metropolitan Exposition, Auditorium and Office Building Authority since 1993.

The CCA was created by state law; River Forest Township trustees comprise its governing board. Its principal occupant is the River Forest Community Center, a non-profit overseen by a separate board of directors.

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