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Kalamazoo gets $70M private donation

Jul 29, 2016

Kalamazoo is getting $70 million from philanthropists and others that will be used to create a foundation to help solve the city's budget woes, and cut property taxes.

The Kalamazoo City Commission decided Thursday to move forward with the idea of creating the Foundation for Excellence.

Officials expect the foundation would be fully funded by 2020, so revenue from investments would be available long-term.

It would allow Kalamazoo to cut property taxes starting in January, and spend $10 million a year on "aspirational" projects, including youth projects, infrastructure and other initiatives.

Kalamazoo Mayor Bobby Hopewell says the opportunity is a "game-changer" when it comes to how the city approaches its future.

"Almost every year, we're talking about reductions and how can we trim expenses, but not talking about aspirations and opportunities. This [donation] changes the conversation, not just for me, but our community conversation," Hopewell said.

Kalamazoo is known for creative philanthropic efforts.

The city's anonymously funded Kalamazoo Promise program has paid college tuition of students for more than a decade.