Groups make case for new tax

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— Members of the board of First Impressions, child-care providers and business leaders came to City Council Tuesday night to present their case for a half-cent sales tax for child care to be put on the ballot this November.

Noting the inability of families in the county to pay for quality child care, the representatives of the groups gave their arguments for why a city sales-tax increase ought to be put to a vote.

County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak, who was wearing her First Impressions hat Tuesday, made the case for a tax that could make it possible for child-care centers to pay care providers better wages and offer benefits. The current shortfall in funding is estimated to be $17 per day per child, according to First Impressions' figures. The tax could bring in an estimated $1.8 million, which would be portioned out to centers on a per-pupil basis, Stahoviak said.

Because the county cannot increase its sales tax due to statutory limits, advocates for early childhood education are going to the city of Steamboat Springs to ask it to put the increase on the ballot, Stahoviak said. Whether the city will put the tax question on the ballot was not decided Tuesday, but it will be reviewed by the city in the upcoming weeks.

Jocelyne Hillmuth offered one strong voice against the tax. Stepping to the podium eight months pregnant, she explained that people who stay home to take care of their kids will be getting taxed to subsidize people who choose not to exercise that option.

"Day care for the majority of people is a choice, not a necessity," she said.

Hillmuth said that the biggest problem in the area is the eradication of strong families, not the need for people outside of the home to take care of children.

Council President Pro Tem Kathy Connell urged the groups supporting the proposal to try to get other municipalities in the county to help out financially as well, even though many of the child-care facilities are in Steamboat.

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