Council Rejects Crowdfunding for City Projects

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Raleigh denizens won’t be paying for bike racks and other small endeavors after City Councilors Tuesday rejected a pilot program through which residents privately fund neighborhood projects.

In a 4-to-4 vote, Councilors sidestepped the crowdfunding program operated by SeeClickFix, a mobile app and website through which residents report non-emergency problems.

Vote Breakdown: Crowdfunding Program

For
Mayor Nancy McFarlane
John Odom
Bonner Gaylord
Russ Stephenson

Against
Eugene Weeks
Randy Stagner
Thomas Crowder
Mary-Ann Baldwin

Had it been approved, Citizens Advisory Councils would have managed the program for one year. In that time, each CAC would be permitted one project. Residents would have been able to fund city projects now waiting for funding or suggest their own neighborhood fix-its.

Credit cards would only be charged when the project is fully funded and only fully-funded projects would go forward, similar to the popular Kickstarter system.

The city wouldn’t have to pay extra for the program since it already uses SeeClickFix. Administration fees for the new software would be built into the project’s cost.

New Haven, Conn. uses the software for small projects, such as bike racks, but is the only city currently doing so. SeeClickFix is based in New Haven.

Councilor Bonner Gaylord suggested the program last week in the Technology and Communications Committee.

During that committee discussion, Councilor Mary-Ann Baldwin said she liked the idea and found it innovative, but voted against it because residents can do this on their own without city involvement.

“Do it privately. Then the city isn’t involved,” Baldwin said. “It’s citizen driven and not government driven.”

Baldwin also said said she isn’t comfortable with the issue of neighborhood equality. Wealthy neighborhoods would have more money to spend on neighborhood projects while less affluent neighborhoods would not.

She said it’s a common problem seen with Parent Teacher Associations. Schools with wealthier, involved parents have stronger PTA programs and students benefit. The opposite is seen in poorer schools.

Gaylord said he doesn’t think equality would be a big issue. He reasoned that if wealthy neighborhoods took on the cost of small projects, such action would free up city funds for projects in other parts of the city. Operating the program for one year would help the Council determine if there are equality issues or any other problems, he said.

At both the committee and the full Council meeting, Baldwin suggested her own pilot program that would fund small projects at the newly acquired Dix Park because it would benefit the entire city rather than one neighborhood. The recommendation never came to a vote.

One thought on “Council Rejects Crowdfunding for City Projects

  1. “The neighborhood equality issue”?

    So let me get this straight.

    On one hand, Baldwin is saying that residents can do this without the involvement of government.

    And on the other hand, Baldwin is raising “equity” issues.

    Seriously? So essentially, we need control and redistribution that only a government can do, but, government is a problematic tool that should not be used?

    Does Baldwin understand that government is “for the people, by the people”?

    I am going to be blunt here but, this is perhaps the dumbest argument I have ever heard. Obviously, people are making decisions based on personal politics and the details on the issues they are presiding over really do not matter. I would advise Baldwin to simply not say anything publicly again, and just show up and vote against anything that they are told to.

    What makes it worse is that this was for a pilot program. So at the large corporations I have worked at my whole adult life, we do pilot’s in order to collect data on innovative solutions with low risk.