Vail looks at helping child care centers
Money would come from tobacco tax
Vail officials are looking into using some of the proceeds from the town’s tobacco tax to help fund early childhood education programs.
The tax, which was approved by voters in 2019, has raised about $500,000 annually in its first couple of years. The Vail Town Council recently heard a proposal about how to use the funds.
Vail Human Resources Director Krista Miller told council members that she and other staff members have been looking at the best places to use that money. The current proposal — about $150,000 — focuses on a combination of workforce retention, tuition assistance grants, program expansion and sustainability and capital needs.
The town currently supports space in the town’s two child care facilities, the Children’s Garden of Learning and the Vail Child Care Center, located above City Market in West Vail.
Miller said some of the tax money could be used to bolster salaries of those who work at the facilities. More pay could help fill staffing shortages, Miller said tuition assistance could help town employees, as well as middle- and lower-income parents pay for child care.
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Expansion is crucial, Miller said, noting there are long waiting lists for spots at the facilities.
Vail’s waiting lists aren’t unique. Miller said there are roughly three times more kids than available spots in this portion of Eagle County.
Council member Travis Coggin called the waiting list numbers “staggering,” adding that the town should prioritize using money to ensure there are enough teachers to fill available spaces. Coggin added that teachers at child care centers ought to make more than lift operators at Vail Mountain — $20 per hour to start.
Council member Pete Seibert said perhaps the town could prioritize housing to lease to teachers. Mayor Kim Langmaid added that perhaps the town should include teachers in the category of “critical service” employees.
Council member Jonathan Staufer said helping staffing, aiding parents and providing money to help maintain facilities sounds like a job for more money than the town report anticipates.
Staff members will go back to work on plans to spend more of the Vail’s tobacco funds on local kids and facilities.
Vail voters in 2019 passed a tobacco tax of $3 per pack of cigarettes. Other tobacco and nicotine products had a 40% tax levied. Smoking cessation products were exempted.