Candidates weigh in on idea for a child-care tax |

Candidates weigh in on idea for a child-care tax

Scott N. Miller

EAGLE COUNTY ” It’s only three weeks until the party primaries.

On Aug. 8, county Republicans and Democrats will pick one candidate each to face off in the November election. Those party candidates will also be running against an independent, Roger Brown of Gypsum. The winner will replace Tom Stone of Gypsum, who can’t run again because of term limits.

From now until November, the Vail Daily will ask the candidates one question a week. To participate, e-mail questions to Questions must be addressed to all the candidates.

This week’s question: Commissioner Arn Menconi is working to get a tax increase before voters this fall. If put on the ballot and approved by voters, the tax increase would raise somewhere between $2 million and $3 million per year to help the government fund day care, preschool and medical care for young children.

What do you think of this idea?

Current research suggests that early childhood education produces positive results for all children and therefore the community at large. A child’s development includes physical and emotional health, nutrition, safe environments, language acquisition, problem solving and social skills.

Fortunately, parents have the support of family and friends, and a variety of day-care centers, well-trained preschool teachers, programs in our school districts, and health and human services.

I worry that funds may be spent without producing positive results for children. The ballot question must address how the funds will benefit children equitably and efficiently throughout the county, and who makes administrative decisions.

I consider children the joy of life. I supported the sales tax increase to build the Gypsum Recreation Center, which benefits our youth. All of our children work and struggle with child-care issues. Will it really help them to charge them more taxes? Eagle County has programs regarding early childhood including:

– The child-care facility in Miller Ranch.

– Partnership in the Eagle Valley Child Care Association.

– Funding a multi-county child-care home licensing program

– Hosting the Early Head Start Program.

– Nutrition and shots for low-income children.

Will this tax increase fund new programs?

The working population of Eagle County, from immigrants to the middle class, is being forced to live outside the county and commute in because of the high cost of living. Any measure that will help the people who work here afford to live here is probably good.

Without being up to speed on other critical county financial needs, I think Menconi’s tax increase for preschool and medical care sounds like a worthy goal.

I believe there is benefit to early childhood education to promote learning and development. However, I am not in favor of raising taxes to achieve that goal. County revenues rise each year because of additional businesses and homes, which increase the sales and property taxes.

For example, it is estimated that Eagle County’s portion of sales tax from the new Costco in Gypsum will be in the neighborhood of $3 million annually. If early childhood education is a high-priority item for the community, it should be included in the county budget and receive funding from increasing Eagle County revenues.

I have attended several meetings of local professionals, business leaders, educators and volunteers, listening to them discuss the importance of early childhood programs. I have followed the yearlong assessment, which confirms that Eagle County has growing needs in child care, preschool and medical care for young people.

It is a fact that for every dollar invested in quality early childhood programs, the community saves $17 down the road. This is a fiscally responsible effort that affirms that Eagle County is committed to seeing our children succeed. The opportunity to invest in the lives of young people is its own reward.

I am limited to only 100 words. First, I would like to make it clear that I enjoy children. The best times of my life have been with ours and other children. Never did I look to the government to baby-sit my kids.

If elected, I will treat the other commissioners with respect and value their opinion, but I may disagree with them, which is good. Two of the commissioners approved spending $9,000 of your tax dollars for a telephone survey for what appears to be a personal agenda. Think long and hard before electing the one candidate who most likely will express support for this.

Vail, Colorado

Support Local Journalism