Eagle County’s new lodging tax targeted, in part, for $500 stipends for child care providers

Other funds may be used for rent, mortgage assistance

A portion of Eagle County's new 2% lodging tax is earmarked to be used for $500 monthly stipends for those who work directly with children.
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By the numbers • $3 million: Projected annual collections from a 2% loding tax imposed in unincorporated Eagle County and the town of Gypsum. • 10%: Loding tax collections that will be used for marketing and promotion. • 90%: Lodging tax revenue that will be used for housing and child care. • $500: Proposed monthy stipend for childcare professionals who work directly with children.

Eagle County is poised to allocate a portion of the money from a new lodging tax to help child care providers.

The Eagle County Board of Commissioners recently heard a task force’s recommendations for revenue from a 2% lodging tax voters approved in 2022. That tax is imposed on lodging properties — including short-term rentals — in unincorporated Eagle County and the town of Gypsum. That tax is expected to generate $3 million in its first year, and proceeds are dedicated to bolstering funding for early childhood programs and workforce housing.

The first among those spending recommendations is a $500 monthly stipend for people working in child care who work directly with children. That proposal is estimated to cost between $1.6 and $1.8 million per year.

Commissioner Jeanne McQueeney said the stipend is needed to retain good people. McQueeney said she wants people to understand “this is a career path,” adding she recently talked with a local mother who didn’t want her daughter to go into a “career of poverty” in the child care field.

Eagle County human resources director Megan Burch said all the program’s spending will be re-evaluated every year, with an idea to sustain the initiatives for at least a few years.

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Burch added that the county wants the stipends to be year-over-year sustainable.

The commissioners are expected to vote in October to approve the stipends.

Another proposal, to continue rental and mortgage assistance for providers, is expected to cost roughly $600,000 per year. Team member Samantha Markovitz said that assistance will continue for the “next few years.”

Task force member Liz Caselda told the commissioners the rent and mortgage assistance proposal isn’t for building new buildings or spaces, noting that a lot can be done to modify existing spaces. Simple changes could yield significant results, she added. Those changes are particularly critical to expand spots for infants and toddlers.

Shelley Smith of the Eagle County School District said one of the district’s facilities has 84 parents on an infant/toddler waiting list.

While $3 million isn’t a huge amount of money for ambitious projects, McQueeney said good planning can make that limited funding source stretch a long way.

And, she added, the county needs to move quickly, and be willing to try things that may or may not work. The county first tried that approach with its Bold Housing Moves initiatives.

Commissioner Matt Scherr said that like housing, “Childcare is a public good … businesses can’t have employees without it.” And, Scherr added, some of the potential costs are “remarkably low, considering what you get out of it.”

McQueeney said the county might want to approach the county’s towns to free up some of their lodging tax money for early childhood initiatives.

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