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updated: 9/11/2012 12:22 PM

Elgin council will consider creating Parks and Rec Foundation

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With a board chosen and bylaws drafted, the Elgin Parks and Recreation Foundation is just a couple steps away from reality. City council members will consider the nonprofit's creation at its committee of the whole meeting Wednesday, after which it can be registered with the state and the Internal Revenue Service.

A 10-person task force took shape after the council approved the concept of the foundation during budget discussions in December. Bylaws call for a board of between eight and 13 volunteer members and the founding group will be just eight, including Parks and Recreation Director Randy Reopelle, who will not be able to vote.

Mark Seigle, a local philanthropist and businessman, served on the task force and will continue on the inaugural board. He said the mission of the foundation is threefold.

"We want to strengthen the community, we've got to assure accessibility and enhance the quality of life for all Elginites, regardless of income," Seigle said. While Seigle thinks Elgin has an extraordinary offering of parks and recreational facilities, he knows some -- like The Centre of Elgin -- are too pricey for everyone to enjoy.

One major goal of the foundation will be raising money to support the Youth Scholarship Fund, which allows low-income young people to participate in recreation programs their families might not otherwise be able to afford. The foundation also is expected to help raise money to support some of the Parks and Recreation facilities that now are subsidized by the city as well as accept donations for department activities.

Because the foundation will be a nonprofit, donors will be able to claim tax deductions for their gifts.

Former mayor Ed Schock, another task force and inaugural board member, said the tax deduction may inspire some people to make larger donations than they otherwise would have. He also pointed to the extra grant opportunities afforded by the foundation that the city cannot apply for as a governmental body.

But Schock, who has spent the last few months trying to raise money for the Elgin Symphony Orchestra, is acutely aware of how difficult the foundation's job will be in a still-hurting economy -- especially when public bodies across the region have formed foundations of their own in recent years.

"Everybody's kind of chasing the same dollars, which makes it tough," Schock said. If the city council gives preliminary approval Wednesday, it must vote on the foundation's creation once more Sept. 26 before the decision is official.

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