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Park City Council considers adding child care funding to city budget

Park City Municipal Corporation
The council has discussed creating stipends to help parents pay for tuition and using financial incentives to boost the number of caregivers for infants.

The Park City Council is showing a willingness to put child care funding for residents in the city budget.

It became clear at last Thursday’s city council meeting that a majority of the council is interested in earmarking $800,000 to $1 million in next fiscal year’s budget to support local child care.

Details on how the money would be allocated, and whether it would only apply to residents living in city limits, still need to be hammered out.

The council has discussed creating stipends to help parents pay for tuition and using financial incentives to boost the number of caregivers for infants.

The move is also seen as a stopgap measure to help child care providers who face a financial cliff with the end of pandemic-era funding from the federal government.

Councilmember Max Doilney said he’s heard more public input in support of funding child care than any other issue during his time in elected office.

“Sometimes somebody just has to start,” Doilney said. “Historically, Park City has been a governmental body that does that. And I think that there is no better issue where Park City could step out and lead than this one. And I believe that we will have every partner in the region follow.”

He and Councilmember Becca Gerber, whose terms end in January, said they want to examine a property tax increase to provide a permanent funding source for child care.

“We think that a property tax increase – a very marginal one at that – would be a sustainable funding source for child care going forward,” Doilney said. “We continue to have an incredibly low property tax rate. If you look at us compared to almost anywhere in the country, we are right at the bottom. And we’ve never raised our property taxes in Park City’s history that we can find, there’s no record of it.”

Now the council has to find a way to fit the expense into next fiscal year’s budget, which under state law, must be approved by the end of June.

Park City Manager Matt Dias said options for how the budget can be adjusted will be presented at their next meeting.

“We hear loud and clear you seek some type of a bridge funding option for FY '24,” Dias said. “We’ve been working on some options in the last couple of weeks. So I think we have a budget item on June 15, which is the next council meeting, where perhaps we can provide two or three financial options for you to consider that we would include in the FY '24 budget, so you’d be able to then adopt that in the following meeting.”

Councilmember Tana Toly suggested delaying a $350,000 traffic barrier installation project as a way to save some cash.

The council will revisit funding for child care at its next meeting June 15.