City commissioners in Kalamazoo, Michigan, have voted unanimously to accept an additional $57.7 million gift from the Stryker Johnston Foundation in support of the Foundation for Excellence, MLive.com reports.
The commitment to FFE, a public-private partnership designed to address systemic challenges to Kalamazoo's prosperity, will enable the city to fund property tax reductions and shore up its budget through 2022. The latest gift from the foundation updates a 2016 agreement in which the foundation and Upjohn Co. heir William Parfet jointly committed $70.3 million through 2019 to fund FFE, with the funds to be allocated to three areas: budget stabilization, property tax reduction, and "aspirational" projects. The updated agreement boosts the total earmarked for budget stabilization and tax reduction from $40.3 million to $98 million.
The new funds represent "operational funding to bring the FFE to life and continue its work while the permanent endowment is being funded," FFE coordinator Steve Brown told MLive. The plan is for the permanent endowment — for which FFE has set a fundraising goal of $500 million — to earn enough revenue to fund the tax cuts permanently.
During the commission's deliberations on Monday, city manager Jim Ritsema praised the gift as a "tremendous" thing. "It's really an investment in what we're doing." he added.