- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 25, 2016

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) - The Kalamazoo City Commission has taken a step toward using roughly $70 million in private donations to help solve the city’s budget problems, cut property taxes and tackle other projects.

The commission voted 6-1 Monday to approve a memorandum of understanding outlining the plan for the Foundation for Excellence, which will be endowed over three years with the donations that city officials secured from local philanthropists and others.

The concept of the foundation was introduced in July, and it’s expected to be created by the end of August 2017. In addition to stabilizing the city’s budget and lowering tax rates, the foundation aims to allow the city to invest in infrastructure and neighborhood improvement projects.

“We’ve got some tough work to do in this city,” Vice Mayor Don Cooney said. “Now we have a chance to get the resources to do the things we need to do.”

The lower property taxes would also make Kalamazoo a more attractive location for developers, City Manager Jim Ritsema said.

City Commissioner Matt Milcarek cast the dissenting vote, saying he was unsatisfied with the lack of detail in the memorandum, according to the Kalamazoo Gazette. Milcarek said he would have liked more information about the foundation’s sustainability in the long term.

Now that the memorandum has been approved, legal documents will be drafted to create the foundation and the city will begin work on the property tax millage and the 2017 budget, WOOD-TV reported.

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