Yes, you hear the promise of lower property taxes and you roll your eyes. But when the amount of money promised to the Kalamazoo's Foundation For Excellence is $400 Million Dollars, then maybe it's not so pie in the sky as we might believe.
Here's the nuts and bolts of this immediate impact:
"FFE’s endowment funds will balance the City of Kalamazoo’s budget, maintain the 2017 property tax decrease for all home and business owners, and advance community projects in line with the goals of the City’s strategic vision, Imagine Kalamazoo 2025. FFE funds projects that address generational poverty, economic development, parks improvements, youth development, affordable housing, and neighborhood infrastructure." - City of Kalamazoo release.
In real terms, the words "budget crunch" in all likelihood, won't be hanging over the heads of city officials, theoretically, ever again.
In addition, this means projects such as a "Minority Contractor Certification program, 508 new multi-family units built or preserved, sidewalk investment from $0 to $1 million annually, tax foreclosures reduced to zero, wealth-building through title transfer, free summer camp for working families, and immediate assistance to small businesses during the pandemic."
In the immediate, the final item, help for small businesses from the ravages of the pandemic will strike a chord as will tax foreclosures becoming a non-issue.
Much like the reaction at Western Michigan University earlier this year, when it was gifted $500 Million dollars, this is thought to be the largest endowment to a municipality ever, and the expected reaction borders almost giddy.
“This is a historic moment for Kalamazoo. This commitment and endowment mean dependability, ensuring the City will sustainably thrive and equitably serve all residents in perpetuity,” said Jim Ritsema, City Manager, in the same release.
Mayor David Anderson said, "It is my hope that FFE can serve as a model to transform how we live together in community in a way that gives all of us more hope for the future."
And former Mayor Bobby Hopewell, who was on the ground floor of the creation of the Foundation, added to Anderson sentiment"
“This is monumental for our city. This is game changing for our city,” he said. “We now have the opportunity to be bolder than we have been. We now have the opportunity to be more courageous than we have been. We have the opportunity to look at things differently, experiment and try and invest and work differently than we ever have in this community." - Former Kalamazoo Mayor Bobby Hopewell.