I am seeking guidance on the the proper balance between hardware, software, and training costs associated with building a GIS for a small community.
Is there a "Rule of Thumb"?
Any thoughts on resources?
This is an interesting question and I'm sure there are various answers out there.
Take a look at this 'ebook' by Esri:
I think it might give you some good examples.
You might want to see what a larger government unit (you are a small town in a larger county) has available out there that covers some of the areas you want to provide GIS information about. You could then possibly work with the larger government that has more resources to get your GIS content out to endusers who need it. This might look like a data sharing agreement in which you could provide them data and they would have the hardware, software and programming to get this data out to the community. They might even be able to generate a data editing application where new data could be generated to improve upon the data set you provided them with at the onsite of the project.