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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Tampa Bay nonprofits weigh filing BP spill claims



As local governments and businesses across the Tampa Bay region file BP oil spill claims, another potential victim has emerged: nonprofit organizations.

In recent months, lawyers and accountants have been approaching the groups, urging them to try to recoup donations, state funding and other revenue lost when Florida tourism tanked after the 2010 spill.

The spill scared tourists away from the state and caused people to lose jobs, "which affects the state revenue dollars available to the not-for-profits," said Ellen Fontana, a Clearwater certified public accountant who handles audits and bookkeeping for nonprofits. "So even though they may not be a hotel on the beach, they were indirectly impacted."

Nonprofits, which are treated like businesses under the BP class-action lawsuit, don't have to prove that their losses are directly attributable to the spill - just that there were revenue fluctuations between 2007 and 2011. They have until April 22, 2014, to file claims.

However, most Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough county nonprofits contacted by the Tampa Bay Times said they aren't pursuing claims because they don't have the equipment or financial means to track such data, or because they feel it is unethical to embark on what might look like a money grab. Others said they didn't notice a loss either anecdotally or after investigating.

Read more here.

[Last modified: Monday, April 22, 2013 11:36am]


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