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County restarts payments to chamber
Liberty County had stopped making payments to the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitor Bureau last spring when questions about the groups' tax status arose. Those questions have been answered.

The Liberty County Commission has decided to resume routine payments to the Convention and Visitor Bureau and the Chamber of Commerce, having suspended them when questions arose in June about the organizations’ nonprofit status and Internal Revenue Service filings.

Tax attorney J.L. Williamson of Savannah and Larry Golden, local CPA, appeared with CVB and chamber CEO Leah Poole to explain their progress and plans. The chamber’s status with the Georgia Secretary of State’s office had appeared as a for-profit entity instead of as a nonprofit due to a filing error, Poole said, and attorney Joel Osteen had that corrected.

Williamson said he was confident of getting the chamber’s nonprofit status reinstated with the IRS and he expected it would be retroactive, but he said he could not predict how long it would take the IRS to act.

"Months, not years," he estimated.

In the initial discussions Poole had agreed with the commissioners that it would not be a problem for them to suspend payments to the organizations until the questions were answered.

"It wasn’t a financial hardship in June," she said Tuesday, "It is now."

Chairman Donald Lovette proposed that the county begin paying the organizations again, but with monthly reports and the expectation of a solution or at least significant progress within six months. The commissioners agreed by a 6-1 vote; Commissioner Marion Stevens voted no.

In other business, after an explanation from County Attorney Kelly Davis commissioners sent the names of Brian Smith, Joe Ford and Maxie Jones to the Coastal Area District Development Authority for an appointment to its board. Smith is the incumbent and his term is expiring. CADDA will choose one name and send it to the Coastal Regional Commission’s council for approval.

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