Plain Township trustees are awaiting a legal opinion to determine if the township can donate money to the New Albany High School Athletic Boosters to help the club in its quest to install synthetic turf on the football field.

Plain Township trustees are awaiting a legal opinion to determine if the township can donate money to the New Albany High School Athletic Boosters to help the club in its quest to install synthetic turf on the football field.

Trustees first discussed the donation Oct. 6 and asked township administrator Ben Collins to prepare a resolution for the donation to be considered at the Oct. 20 meeting.

On Oct. 19, New Albany Village Council member Glyde Marsh, who serves as the liaison to the township, questioned whether the township could donate to the school cause.

Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien has said the township may not be able to donate to the boosters, citing attorney general's opinion No. 2007-043. It states there is "no statute that provides general authority for a board of township trustees to donate money to a local school district."

The township says it is not trying to donate funds to the school district, however. Trustees discussed giving the donation to the boosters, which is a nonprofit organization.

"The statute is very clear that townships have the authority to donate to a 501c3 (nonprofit organization) that serves a community purpose," Collins said.

The statute is very broad, Collins said. It reads: "A board of township trustees may appropriate from the township general revenue fund monies not appropriated for any other purpose to an organization that the board determines serves a community purpose and that is exempt from federal taxation under subsection 501a and described in subsection 501c3 of the 'Internal Revenue Code of 1986.'"

Collins has requested an opinion from O'Brien's office before the township can move forward with its legislation. Trustees agreed to table the issue Oct. 20, pending legal counsel.

The attorney general's opinion specifically addresses public bodies and schools, further stating that "this provision authorizes a board of township trustees to donate general revenue fund monies to organizations determined to serve a community purpose. However, by the plain language of the statute, the recipients are limited to organizations that are included as 501c3 organizations for purposes of federal income tax. Governmental bodies are not included in that classification."

The New Albany High School Athletic Boosters has raised more than $150,000 to install synthetic turf in the football stadium. The group is trying to raise $825,000 to complete the project. They have sent requests to both Plain Township and the village of New Albany. On Oct. 19, Marsh requested the village attorney research the issue, as well, before village council considers the donation.

Collins said he hopes to have an opinion before the next trustees meeting, scheduled Nov. 3.

lwince@thisweeknews.com

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