The Breckenridge Town Council on Aug. 27 held the final vote for an ordinance concerning funds for continuing a child-care scholarship program.
The ordinance includes language for a ballot measure for funding, which will go to voters in November, and outlines the duties of a commission to watch over the child-care funds and serve as an advisory group.
All seven council members voted to pass the ordinance at the Tuesday meeting. The ordinance establishes how the new fund will be managed if the ballot question passes in November. If the ballot question passes, the Town of Breckenridge Childcare Fund would be used to account for additional property tax revenues collected.
As the ordinance states, the purpose of the child care fund is: “To offset the cost of providing child care assistance and early childhood education for qualified recipients, including, but not limited to, providing scholarships; to offset a portion of the cost of child care for qualified recipients; and to provide grants for equipment and other capital expenditures for qualified providers of child-care assistance and early childhood education.”
An independent board, established by the town council, will supervise the fund. The board will then make annual recommendations about rules and regulations for the scholarship program.
There is already an existing child-care taskforce, which has lead the campaign for the new tax initiative. Those members may or may not become part of the new supervisory board.
The Child Care Tax Ballot Question will be decided in a special town election Nov. 5, 2013. The question asks voters to approve a new 1.652 mill levy, which equals $131 per year for every $1 million in residential property value, or $479 for every $1 million in commercial property value.
An existing property tax that currently pays for the child care fund, approved by voters years ago, is ending. Kim Dykstra-DiLallo, public information office for the town of Breckenridge, said the business community indicated it preferred another property tax to a sales tax.
If the measure passes, property owners will actually see a decrease in taxes, Dykstra-DiLallo said. The ballot question replaces the older mill levy — the assessed property tax rate used by local governments and other jurisdictions to raise revenue in order to cover annual expenses — that ends next year at a slightly lower rate.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Breckenridge Councilwoman Jennifer McAtamney said since the child-care fund and scholarship program is already in place, voters just need to approve the new mill levy in order to continue the program.
“The cost of living here is much higher than most places, and wages are low because we’re a resort community,” she said.
In order to pay teachers a living wage, schools had to raise tuition rates, which made child care less affordable for lower- and middle-class parents.
“It created a perfect storm for people who have children and put them in care,” McAtamney said.
In 2012, approximately 150 families who live or work in the Upper Blue River Basin received assistance from the current child-care scholarship program in Breckenridge.
McAtamney said families should expect to spend 12 percent to 15 percent of their income on child care. The Breckenridge scholarships close any gap — if the actual cost was closer to 20 percent, for example, a scholarship would cover the difference.
“The program has been proven, and now we are asking for a permanent fund to take care of the need,” she said.
Community character is part of the town’s vision plan, which reads: “The Town of Breckenridge is a cohesive and diverse community, where residents and visitors experience an historic mountain town with characteristic charm that offers a safe, friendly and peaceful atmosphere where individuals can live, work, play and raise a family.”