Fairhope Single Tax Corporation
The Directors, Officers, and Trustees for 2023
Director - Place 1: H.C. "Cliff" Pitman
Director - Place 2: Catherine P. King
Director - Place 3: Geoffrey F. Kennedy
Director - Place 4: Fred Watkins, Jr.
Director - Place 5: James "Jim" H. Reid, Jr.
President: Lee Turner
Vice-President: Charles Lake
Secretary: Reuben E. "Ed" Davidson, III
Treasurer: Michael Upchurch
Trustee - Place 1: Pat King
Trustee - Place 2: Teresa Watkins
Trustee - Place 3: George Gilmore
The FSTC Office Staff
Jennifer Evans Sanford, Executive Director
The Fairhope Single Tax Corporation
Today, the Fairhope Single Tax Corporation, also known as the Colony, is a 501(c)(4) not-for-profit corporation located within the City of Fairhope. The Colony received this status on November 7, 2003 which means it is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as an organization that promotes social welfare and the common good of the community.
In November 1894, a group of 28 single-taxers from Des Moines, Iowa headed by Ernest B. Gaston wanted to establish a colony based on the single tax theories of economist, journalist, and social reformer Henry George as set forth in his book Progress and Poverty published in 1879. They formed the Fairhope Industrial Association in Iowa, and after much research, selected the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay. They began buying up land with their pooled resources. People were already living here, so the Colony could only buy what was for sale--hence, the patchwork location of Colony property! After purchasing as much land as they were able, the Fairhope Industrial Association leased its land to settlers for 99-year, renewable leases and the lessees would own all the improvements on the land. In theory, the lessees would be charged an amount equal to the full rental value of the land as defined by Henry George, although this never actually occurred. In 1904, the Fairhope Single Tax Corporation was incorporated in Alabama.
One of the most unique features of Fairhope is our abundance of parkland and public bay front access. The first single tax colonists recognized the importance of a community sharing in the best parts of the community. In the 1930s, the Colony deeded all the parks to the City of Fairhope, with the reservations that the lands could only be used as parks. The Colony also deeded the Wharf (the Fairhope Pier), the original community utilities, and the original community streets, sidewalks, and alleys to the City of Fairhope. The bay front, especially, was shared by the Community. Therefore, all the parks along the bay front, as well as numerous nature parks throughout the City, were deeded to the City of Fairhope in the 1930s with the stipulation that they would be kept for the benefit of all as parks.
The Fairhope Single Tax Corporation still owns about 4,500 acres of land in and around Fairhope, both inside and outside the city limits, which is only about 20% of Fairhope. Lessees still lease the land via a 99-year lease and own all improvements outright. The rent charged to lessees for the leased land includes the taxes due on the land and improvements, an administration fee to operate the Single Tax Corporation office, and a demonstration fee that is calculated from the appraised value of the land. The demonstration fee is used by Fairhope Single Tax Corporation to demonstrate the usefulness of the single tax concept by enhancing the community through public parks, the public library, the historical museum, community sidewalks, the hospital, and many other bricks and mortar projects. The majority of Colony land is located in the downtown area and moving East in proximity to Fairhope Avenue. The City of Fairhope, incorporated in 1908, governs the City via an elected Mayor and five elected City Council Members.
The Fairhope Single Tax Corporation consists of Members that have completed an economics course on Henry George and the single tax theory, are over the age of eighteen years, have contributed their membership fee, and have been approved by the Executive Council. The Members elect five Directors (the Executive Council), four Officers, and three Trustees. The Corporation is governed by its Constitution and By-Laws.
The Corporation functions via a Board of Directors known as the Executive Council. The Executive Council votes on all corporation matters at a monthly meeting of Members. Only the Executive Council has voting power on pending matters, although the Members may petition for a referendum of decisions of the Executive Council.
The Officers consist of a President (the voice and face of the Corporation), a Vice President, a Treasurer, and a Secretary (the acting arm of the Executive Council).
The Trustees have general oversight of the affairs of the Corporation, are in charge of elections, perform audits of the Corporation’s accounts, and review reports of officers and employees.
The Single Tax Corporation office consists of an Executive Director, a Bookkeeper, and Office Personnel.