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NJ legislator has project funding idea

You may have heard of Kickstarter.com, the website that allows would-be filmmakers to solicit donations to help fund their movies. The process is called crowdfunding, and a New Jersey lawmaker wants towns and counties in the Garden State to be allowed to do it in lieu of using tax dollars to raise cash for community projects.

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“We are bringing the public in to be a part of the process, and that’s the opposite of what happens in Trenton,”┬ásaid Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce (R-Parsippany). “Normally you’re dictated to. Whenever we pass a bill in Trenton we’re always imposing on the public, whether we’re dictating or mandating or requiring.”

According to the assemblywoman, towns have many worthwhile projects each year that don’t get funded because of fiscal issues, or a lack of public support for spending tax dollars. She said her bill gives people the option of donating for projects they do like, and they obviously would not have to contribute to projects that they do not support.

“With crowdfunding, they’re not being taxed for different things like an athletic field, a community center, storm disaster relief, historical preservation,” DeCroce said.

There are safeguards in place to ensure the donated funds are used for their stated purpose. DeCroce’s legislation would also allow for donor-based crowdfunding, where donors could contribute to a project and then reap any potential dividends.

Some other states already allow crowdfunding. In Portland, Oregon, it’s being used to raise money for a world-class bicycle park. In Kansas City, it was used to raise almost $420,000 in private funds for 90 shareable bikes. In the Boston area, crowdfunding was used to give iPads and Bluetooth headsets to students.

“Why not allow teachers in New Jersey to use crowdfunding for supplies?” DeCroce asked.

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