Voter guide to Summit County, Breckenridge child care ballot questions
1A Summit County Right Start Project
- Extends existing property tax that funds county-wide early education program.
2B Breckenridge Child Care Scholarship Program
- New property tax to fund existing program that provides assistance for child care.
Deciding on two local ballot initiatives in November isn’t child’s play for some Summit County voters.
There are two questions on the November ballot about child care, one for all of Summit County and one just for Breckenridge. Question 1A would continue to fund the Right Start Project in the county, and question 2B is a property tax increase in Breckenridge for child care scholarships.
Opponents of the tax proposals argue the programs cost everyone and only benefit a few. But proponents say the dollars helping local families afford early childhood education are an investment in local children, which would return to the community as they grow up.
1A — Summit County Right Start Project
In 2005, Summit County voters passed a local tax initiative to help support early care and learning. Programs funded through this effort are components of the Right Start Project.
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Right Start is designed to improve quality, availability and affordability of early care and learning for Summit County families. The objectives are to ensure local working families have safe, quality care for their children; to attract and retain quality early childhood teachers; to provide parents with tools to help them be their child’s first and best teacher; and to prepare children for future school success.
The project partners with Summit County government, the Family & Intercultural Resource Center and Early Childhood Options.
Funding for Right Start would end in 2015 if ballot question 1A does not pass. 1A extends the existing tax with no future end date. The proposal does not raise any additional taxes; it continues the existing property tax, which was passed 13 years ago.
According to Early Childhood Options, 95 percent of licensed child care and preschool facilities participate in the Summit County Right Start Project. More than 100 teachers in the county participate in Right Start’s training and professional development initiative.
2B — Breckenridge Child Care Scholarship Program
The Breckenridge ballot question would fund existing child care scholarships and assistance through a new property tax with the goal of raising $800,000 for 2014 and continuing annually.
2B asks voters in town 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. The revenue collected by the town as a result of that mill levy would be used to offset the cost of providing child care assistance and early childhood education for qualified recipients, as well as future projects.
The Breckenridge Town Council has already passed an ordinance that establishes how the new fund will be managed if the ballot question passes. An independent board, established by the council, will supervise the fund.
The town says property owners will actually see a decrease in taxes if the measure passes. That’s because the ballot question replaces the old mill levy, which funded the scholarships and which ends next year, at a lower rate.
Surveys earlier this year showed support for the Breckenridge question, with more than 60 percent of voters saying they would back the tax. In 2012, the scholarship program in Breckenridge served approximately 150 families and 230 children.
Most parents who receive assistance live and work in the Upper Blue Basin, and the majority of those families make 80 percent or less of the area median income (AMI). In most cases, data shows both parents work and hold multiple jobs. But in the 2011-12 school year, a small number of families in the program reported at least one parent was unemployed or a stay-at-home mother. The same year 11 families — 9 percent of those receiving scholarships — also reported incomes more than the AMI.
For taxpayers, with 187 kids receiving scholarship awards, the total cost amounts to $558,000 a year. The ballot question in November would provide an estimated $800,000 per year for the program, allowing for some increase.
Only 50 percent of people over the age of 55 said they would vote for the measure, according to the results of the earlier voter survey.
Tuition for kids between 3 and 5 years old is, on average, $59 per day, working out to more than $1,100 per month. It’s expected a family will spend between 12 to 15 percent of its income on child care, no matter what the scholarship program provides. The program helps cover the cost of care to close the gap.
The Family & Intercultural Resource Center and the Early Childhood Options boards of directors have officially endorsed both 1A and 2B, and the Breckenridge Town Council passed a resolution supporting the measures.
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