Fairhope, Alabama, is one of two single tax colonies remaining in the United States (the other is in Arden, Delaware). The community was established in 1894 by a group from Des Moines, Iowa, headed by Ernest B. Gaston, who wanted to establish a colony based on the single tax theories of economist, journalist and social reformer Henry George. These theories were presented in his great book Progress and Poverty, published in 1879.
The people who founded Fairhope were not able to create a true single tax community as defined by Henry George, but they attempted to come as close as they could. They acquired land in the name of the Fairhope Single Tax Corporation (it was called the Fairhope Industrial Association until 1904), then leased the land to those who wanted to use or live on the land. Lessees have a 99 year renewable lease on the land, but have ownership of improvements on the land.
The rent paid to the Single Tax Corporation by lessees includes an amount due for state, county and local taxes, plus an administration fee to operate the Single Tax Corporation office, plus a demonstration fee, intended to demonstrate the usefulness of the single tax concept. Funds from the demonstration fee are used to enhance the community by supporting such things as the public parks, the public library, the historical museum, etc.
Fairhope is located on the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay, a short distance from Mobile. About 4,500 acres of land in and around Fairhope is owned by the Fairhope Single Tax Corporation. This includes the downtown area and a little less than half of the remainder of the city.
Organizational Structure of the Fairhope Single Tax Corporation
What is now the Fairhope Single Tax Corporation was incorporated as the Fairhope Industrial Association in Des Moines, Iowa February 7, 1894. The founders wanted to establish a model community or colony, free from all forms of private monopoly, and to secure to its members therein equality of opportunity, the full reward of individual efforts, and the co-operation in matters of general concern.
According to the Constitution of the Fairhope Single Tax Corporation, the officers shall be: a president, a vice-president, a secretary, a treasurer, three trustees and five directors. The five directors constitute the Executive Council of the Corporation and have general charge of the administration of the affairs of the Corporation. The three trustees have general oversight of the affairs of the Corporation, and are in charge of elections, auditing accounts, and reviewing reports of officers and employees.
Meetings of the Executive Council are held 6:30 p.m. the second Wednesday of each month at the Fairhope Single Tax Corporation, 336 Fairhope Avenue in Fairhope. Members of the Corporation are welcome to attend.
Membership in the Fairhope Single Tax Corporation is open to anyone over the age of eighteen years and who has taken a course on the single tax theory of Henry George, and who has contributed to the Corporation the amount of one hundred dollars and been approved by the Executive Council.