Eagle County commissioners say they’ll prioritize early childhood education with lodging tax funds

Within the wake of November’s passage of a 2% lodging tax, the Eagle County Board of Commissioners now has to create a system to distribute an estimated $3 million per yr.
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County voters in November approved a brand new lodging tax. Now it’s time to find out how that cash is spent.

The tax, levied in unincorporated Eagle County and the city of Gypsum — the one of the county’s cities with no lodging tax — is anticipated to boost $3 million in its first yr.

By state legislation, 10% of that income should be devoted to tourism promotion and advertising.

In a Monday presentation to the Eagle County Commissioners, county finance director Jill Klosterman stated a three-person board should handle that cash.

Klosterman stated the state recommends that board members come from companies creating the tax income. Her suggestion was to nominate one individual from the Eagle River Valley portion of the county, one from the unincorporated areas of the Roaring Fork Valley, and one from Gypsum.

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Then there’s the matter of spending the remaining 90% of the tax income, which is to go towards “workforce help,” notably youngster care and housing.

County Human Assets Director Megan Burch stated the guiding ideas for the tax cash might be pulled largely from a 2016 “street map” for supporting youngster care and housing. Burch famous that added standards can embody fairness, guaranteeing the Roaring Fork Valley is included and one of the best methods to serve low-income households.

Burch famous there are present teams that might assist decide the place to spend the lodging tax cash. There’s an early childhood advisory group, though Burch acknowledged the group hasn’t met in a while.

The county’s mayors and city managers, together with the county supervisor, meet quarterly. That group might assist pull an advisory group collectively, Burch stated.

Commissioner Kathy Chandler-Henry requested a few attainable timeline to begin spending the tax cash.

“The best,” Burch stated, is to begin this yr.

Commissioner Jeanne McQueeney famous that officers could have an concept of income collections in March, when the primary lodging tax funds are despatched from the state to the county.

McQueeney, a longtime advocate for early childhood schooling, famous that state funding for a number of tasks will finish in 2024, including there are different “alternatives” for utilizing the funds this yr.

Chandler-Henry stated she’d prefer to see the lodging tax funds at first directed primarily to early childhood applications.

McQueeney stated the tax funds “will make a dent in early childhood” efforts, including that 80% of the price of youngster care operations goes to employees pay and advantages.

On condition that the county this yr will spend greater than $10 million on housing initiatives, the group agreed to place many of the cash into youngster care. However Commissioner Matt Scherr stated the funds might probably be used to assist create some deed-restricted youngster care areas in new or present housing tasks.

McQueeney and Chandler-Henry each stated they need as a lot transparency as attainable when spending the cash, with Chandler-Henry asking for an annual report.

The commissioners ought to have extra concrete suggestions to take a look at within the subsequent few weeks.

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