Joel Robideaux, the mayor-president of the Louisiana city and parish of Lafayette, urged local residents on Thursday to consider launching an initial coin offering (ICO).
Lafayette parish is in dire financial straits, officials say. A presentation given by the town in March stressed that property tax revenues are insufficient and that a fund used to finance operations is running dry. The measures put forward to address the situation included raising taxes, eliminating the parks department and annexing unincorporated land.
According to local reports, Robideaux favors a less conventional solution: create a cryptocurrency and sell it.
He said Thursday that the parish should launch its own crypto, distribute it through an ICO, and use the proceeds to "build a living lab of blockchain researchers and developers," the Acadiana Advocate reports.
The mayor-president did not explain what function this cryptocurrency would serve besides raising funds. He said the goal was to "develop solutions targeting government inefficiencies, and, more importantly, alternatives for financing public infrastructure."
Other municipalities have toyed with the idea in the past. The city of Berkeley, California, proposed creating a cryptocurrency earlier this year, describing the tokens as "crypto enabled microbonds."
Similarly to Lafayette, Berkeley's impetus is a funding crunch. The predominantly Democratic city has seen federal money for housing programs decrease under the Republican Trump administration. One Berkeley official presented the ICO in explicitly political terms, saying: "the resistance requires a token."
Robideaux, a Republican, tried to distance himself from any kind of ideology in his recent speech. Cryptocurrency, he said, is "not just a bunch of global libertarians that want unregulated, untraceable and secure digital currency transactions."
He went on to say:
"It's the recognition of global stakeholders that the world of banking, finance and payment systems is forever changed, that the world of healthcare, government and possibly every other industry is about to be disrupted."
Empty piggy bank image via Shutterstock
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