Breckenridge child care oversight measure clears first vote
BRECKENRIDGE — The Breckenridge Town Council voted in favor of a measure Tuesday that would implement a series of oversight regulations around the child care tax initiative, should it pass in November.
The proposed law, dubbed the child care fund governance ordinance, would require a new, independent board be formed to administer the money and make recommendations to the council. It also places restrictions on the money, mandating the majority of revenue from the tax be used for scholarships to help families cover the cost of child care and not for grants, equipment or capital expenses, according to a memo from Breckenridge staffers.
Town officials say the purpose of the measure is to make the rules and expectations on the tax clear to both voters and the council.
“Some of the criticism we’ve received in the past was, ‘Gee, do we really know where the money’s going?’” Mayor John Warner said. “We felt by codifying it, we would create a structure that we could refer to and give our citizens some comfort that there is a structure in how we disseminate these funds.”
The town is asking voters to approve a 1.6 mil property tax, expected to generate approximately $800,000 the first year, that will support the existing child care scholarship program.
The measure has met with widespread support from many in the community and is particularly popular among young voters and women, polls show. But opponents question the merit of a tax that provides benefits to only a small cross section of people.
“I just think it’s wrong for the citizens of Breckenridge and Summit to be subsidizing day care,” stated Upper Blue resident Debbie Tyber in an email to the Summit Daily News. “I just believe that people have to take care of themselves and not rely on government unless absolutely necessary.”
Opponents have also expressed doubts about who receives the scholarships and whether they are actually Breckenridge residents or employees.
Town officials say most of them are both, but the governance ordinance will increase the accountability of the program.
The independent child care board will make recommendations to the town regarding rules and regulations of the program and the council, under the ordinance, would be required to review the property tax and determine whether it is necessary to levy the full 1.6 mils every year.
An existing child care taskforce has already been assembled to lead the campaign efforts for the tax initiative. Warner said that taskforce will not become the new child care board, but some of the same members may be asked to move to the new committee.
“We haven’t created those rules, but we definitely want an advisory board that is overseeing the disbursement of funds,” he said. “That way we have people who are experts in the field overseeing the handling of the monies.”
The ordinance will allow the council to use money generated by the child care tax for other purposes, but they would always be required to pay it back in full.
“That’s the way all of our funds work,” Warner said. “That is not a shell game where the money moves and doesn’t go back.”
The governance ordinance will be up for a final vote at the Breckenridge Town Council’s next meeting on Aug. 27. At that time, the public will have an opportunity to comment on the measure before it goes up for a final vote.
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