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July 29, 2016

Donors Offer $70 Million for Mich. City to Create Foundation

Kalamazoo, Mich., officials are moving forward with a proposal to establish a foundation that would take a page from philanthropy in addressing the city’s persistent financial struggles, the Kalamazoo Gazette reports.

Municipal leaders have secured commitments of $70.3 million over three years from local philanthropists to launch the effort, which Mayor Bobby Hopewell called a “game-changing opportunity” for the city. The City Commission unanimously agreed Thursday to direct the city manager to gather more details on the plan pending a formal vote before the end of the year.

Kalamazoo has cut programs and eliminated hundreds of City Hall jobs in the face of a structural budget deficit. The donor infusion would allow city to close the budget gap and fund what officials called “aspirational” projects long stymied by the shortfall, such as sidewalk improvements and small-business loans. The money would also be used to slash property-tax rates by more than a third starting next year and underpin investments to provide a steady municipal revenue stream.