- Voice in the Wind Magazine Inc.
Why do towns and cities bring in paid parking? Why do they want to tax tourists? Money. Municipal governments have limited sources of income. Usually property taxes are key amongst them. Beyond that, they have some limited taxation powers. So how are they going to raise more money without getting it from the townspeople? And how does a government get money without resorting to taxes? I think I may have a solution, albeit a very unorthodox one: Tokens. Just like Chuck E. Cheese’s Restaurant uses, but bigger in scale.
If you can’t have ‘resort town’ status, you can at least have Chuck E. Cheese status. In other words – you can work with the framework of being a tourist town. After all, we’re in the business of ‘fun’, right? To that end, I propose the town consider a representative currency like a token system. This can be in the form of an independent token system (like the kind used in subway systems around the world) or be the result of a public-private partnership (PPP). In the case of a PPP, the town would partner with a company like the producers of Bitcoin or Dogecoin. You could even go so far as to partner with Hasbro – a board game maker – and bring Monopoly Money to life. Either way, something virtual becomes something real – a coin or token. This stand-in would allow the Municipal Government to get a share of the money floating around the town – especially important in small tourist towns that have a limited tax base. The Municipality would simply take a fee for the use of the currency. Let’s say the token is worth $5, then $4 is the manufacturer’s share and $1 is the town’s share of the money. That’s the gist of it anyway.
The main benefit for the town would be the exclusivity of the tokens. They should only be usable in town and essentially unique. This means they can’t be used elsewhere and dramatically increases the odds that the money is “left on the table” so to speak. The idea here is to encourage tipping front line workers by leaving them the tokens that you (the customer) aren’t taking with you. All tokens are spent in town and hopefully that is a boost to the economy too. This is important because the whole point would be for the town to get revenue, which would happen through sales of the tokens. If the town is not the primary dispenser of the tokens, then the purpose is defeated.
Due Back System
On the topic of tipping front line workers, there is already a system in place for giving them tips from Credit Cards and other electronic payments that could be adapted to the purpose of token based tips too – it’s called a ‘due back’. This is shorthand for cash being owed to the worker and happens when the customer uses any method of payment that isn’t cash. Tokens could be accepted as payment and the worker would simply have a due back (or money owed to them) to be paid with their next paycheck. Alternatively, the tokens could be fed into a machine (like a coin counter) and a stub could be printed indicating the amount owed. The stub could be submitted with the ‘cash out’/paperwork at the end of the shift.
Why Metal Coins?
The primary reason for metal coins is the tips. In all fairness to the workers, an electronic system is just a cashless option so why would anyone want another? We all have debit and credit cards anyway. There would be no point in using it. There would also be no incentive to leave ‘money on the table’ because it would be easy to carry and easier to forget! The big motivation for tipping (from the customer’s perspective) would be to get rid of the tokens.
The other important reason is the versatility. Exhibit A. In our little town we have buskers, who play music around town for money. They aren’t going to have a Point-of-Sale (POS) Machine on hand. But tokens can be given easily – anytime. Exhibit B. Machines. Specifically coin operated or coin dispensing machines.
Lastly, durability. Metal coins last forever – or a very long time anyway. They won’t need to be replaced very often. And they won’t get damaged easily either.
Picking up on Exhibit B, there are a few good uses for these machines. Perhaps the best reason is the environment. We would like to encourage recycling and if the town invests in reverse vending machines (RVM’s) then we could offer a cheaper vacation in exchange for keeping our little town clean. The only modification – it dispenses tokens, not cash. It would also be helpful to locals looking for a little extra cash to spend locally.
Local businesses could even install RVMs as an incentive for increased foot traffic in areas that normally struggle to find customers. RVMs could be used at attractions and on hiking trails to encourage people to keep the town free from litter. As a side note, any of the major American cities that are dealing with increased homelessness may find this system helpful too because tokens can be restricted to non-alcoholic and non-drug related purchases. This means tokens won’t feed addictions, just people. Just saying.
Perhaps RVMs could be expanded in the future to include cardboard. I imagine the machines would weigh the cardboard and pay out per pound. Maybe a recycling depot could be set up to offer the service too.
Token Operated Devices
I’m not going to spend any time explaining these ones – they eat money. We all get that. The trickle down benefit is that locals can reduce their cost of living by using tokens left by tourists. Here are some ideas for the sake of discussion:
- Pay Toilets
- Public Skating
- Pool Tables
- Arcade Games
- Vending Machines
- Laundry Machines
I don’t know if this has ever been tried before on this scale, but it has worked for individual companies. Maybe it could work for the Town too. Either way, thank you all for reading my articles. Please, like, share and subscribe to read my book. Please follow me on twitter too.
Phone: 403-497-WIND (9463)