Kansas City hopes fundraising will help with city projects - KCTV5

Kansas City hopes fundraising will help with city projects

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The website kickstarter.com helps small businesses raise money. Now, the city of Kansas City is getting in on something similar to possibly take some of the burden off taxpayers.

A new company appropriately called 'Neighbor.ly' is bringing new meaning to the expression "charity begins at home".

Two guys huddled in a small non-descript office in The Crossroads District could change the way public projects are financed in the metro through a soon-to-be launched website that will act as a clearinghouse for donations from ordinary citizens and corporations. The inspiration came from a similar company, which raised more than $1 million for a project that only needed $400,000.

The first project for the fledging fundraisers is the much-maligned proposed streetcar line.

"It just kind of clicked that we could probably apply crowd funding to the streetcar to make a more equitable outcome," Jase Wilson, the CEO of neighbor.ly, said.

The cost of that streetcar is estimated at about $100 million, 75-percent of which would be covered solely by Fourth District property owners. The idea did not go over very well with some residents and business owners.

Wilson thought he could help and approached the city with the crowd financing suggestion. The city signed off on it and the public response has been overwhelming even though Wilson's website hasn't officially launched.

"We're getting cities in other parts of the country as well as other projects inside Kansas city that are already asking us when they're going to be listed," he said.

A spokesman for the city said Wilson's neighbor.ly idea is a win-win.

"Any dollars we can bank ahead of going to a tax proposal means that the tax we have to ask for is smaller and that's a good thing for everybody," Danny Rotert said.

Once this website launches anyone from any part of the city or the country can contribute to this streetcar project. The site's operator and the city are working together to decide what perks donors will get in return.

When the website is launched, it can be found by clicking here.

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