Saturday, January 8, 2011

Community Development and Fundraising

The Nauvoo Commuter philosophy states that local governments are not obligated to support small business. But they are obligated to not get in the way, either.

Every small town has projects needing funding. So we argue about which projects most deserve the limited monies, we apply for federal grants, we in the end make the wrong choices, and we flounder. We don't do the most important things.

The best way to is to create what I call a Community Betterment Fund, based on the following principles:

 - Every dollar should be earmarked for a certain project, which
   should be determined by the person who donated that dollar.
   It is the ultimate form of taxation with representation.
 - Keep it independent. Don't make it a sovereign fund, or a city
   slush fund. It should be an independent non-profit, with its own
   governing board, who are accountable to tax authorities and to
   the stakeholders.
 - It should not be democratic. Not everyone in the community
    should be able to vote on how the funds are spent. The funds
    don't come from taxes, so citizens should not be able to coerce
    the board to spend in a certain way.
 - The fund should be independently audited.
 - The board should not try to please everyone, and should not try
   to report to the citizenry. If any citizen or city official disagrees
   with how money is earmarked, let those people create their own
   fund, dedicated to some other pet project. A community can
   have more than one fund. Let those who donate determine
   the priorities.
 - Keep it simple, with no more than five potential projects.
 - Accumulated funds should be invested until spent. This should
   be outsourced. Several communities should combine their funds,
   so they can negotiate higher returns. This is not uncommon.

These ideas help avoid some potential pitfalls, and give a voice to the payer (unlike income tax.)

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