Breckenridge to gauge local support for ballot measure that would fund child care programming |

Breckenridge to gauge local support for ballot measure that would fund child care programming

Little Red Schoolhouse in Breckenridge is pictured May 9. Breckenridge plans to survey the community regarding a long-term funding solution for the town's child care program.
Photo by Jason Connolly / Summit Daily archives

The town of Breckenridge plans to survey residents about whether they would support a ballot measure to help fund the town’s child care centers.

The town’s child care program gives $800,000 per year to the child care centers — including Little Red Schoolhouse, Carriage House, Timberline Learning Center and Breckenridge Montessori — to support programming and teachers as well as access for local families in the form of tuition assistance. The current fund balance and the annual marijuana fund transfers can sustain the program into 2024, but after that, there isn’t a dependable funding stream.

The council previously had discussed ideas for a long-term, permanent funding stream for the program, including a ballot measure. While the specific tax that could fund the program has not yet been decided, council brought up sales, property and short-term rental taxes as possibilities.

“It probably makes most sense to understand where the community is with this issue right now so that we could figure out best approaches,” Housing and Childcare Planning Manager Laurie Best said at Tuesday’s Breckenridge Town Council meeting. “Whether that’s a ballot initiative for child care or a bundled initiative, we don’t know what would be the best strategy until we check in with the community.”

Best suggested the town contract with Magellan Strategies, which could organize a text and phone call survey to gather community feedback in late spring or early summer. Magellan Strategies founder David Flaherty explained that the company has done other similar surveys in mountain towns, including the Vail Valley. He said the survey could help the town understand resident and voter opinions.

Flaherty said the company conducts its surveys in waves and that it would start with a text message to residents with an image of the town of Breckenridge and a message saying something along the lines of, “Hi, we really want to listen and learn from you.” The text would include a way for residents to access an online survey. Flaherty said the company expects it would have the cellphone numbers of about half of Breckenridge’s residents.

Last year, Flaherty said the company saw more success reaching residents over 45 years old via text messages, which he attributed to an uptick in tech savviness throughout the pandemic. After the texts are sent, the company follows up with phone calls to cellphones and landlines to reach those who might have been missed. Flaherty noted that survey answers are anonymous.

Mayor Eric Mamula requested that the survey be as simple as possible so people complete it. He said he often starts a survey but exits before finishing because there are too many questions.

“Right now, we’re pre-ballot measure,” Flaherty said. “We’re really trying to just measure broad support.”

Council agreed to contract with Magellan Strategies, and Town Manager Rick Holman said the measure could be on local election ballots in April 2022. The town is planning to target the springtime municipal election so the question doesn’t get lost on a larger statewide or national ballot, which Holman said was an issue the last time a similar ballot question was brought to voters in 2013.

“The child care committee and staff definitely realize that this isn’t the only work that we’re going to have to do to get this passed. What we’re really hopeful for is that this survey would be a good platform for us, it would be a good reason for people to reach out to us and ask what’s going on,” council member Kelly Owens said.

Owens said the committee is focused on finding people who are willing to be ambassadors and explain the issue to neighbors, businesses and other community members.

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