PUEBLO-- — Pueblo voters will decide in November whether or not to raise the city's lodging tax by 1.5%. The Pueblo City Council approved the ballot question on Monday.
If the proposal passes, funds from the lodging tax increase would go towards childcare. Parents would be able to apply for assisted funding to help pay for childcare at local license facilities.
Angie Shehorn works in childcare and supports the proposed lodging tax.
“It's not going to fix the problem but it sure is going to do a lot more than we have now,” Shehorn said.
Pueblo is considered a childcare desert because there is a lack of available licensed child care facilities people can afford.
If this proposal passes, middle and lower-class families would be able to apply for this money to go to their child's monthly childcare. If a family qualifies, they could potentially have the entire cost of child care covered.
“So we want this to be an option for those families who are battling with the choice, do we both stay in the workforce or just one of us, quit our job and stay home and care for the children because of the cost of care? We don't want that to have to be a decision family makes,” Shehorn said.
The city estimates the tax would raise nearly $625,000 600 for child care each year.
Many people spoke out in support of the tax increase at Monday's city council meeting, but not everyone is for the tax. Chris Crosier is a part of the Pueblo Lodging Association and the General Manager of the Clarion Inn.
“The Pueblo Housing Association does not support the proposed ballot measure to increase the lodging tax collections for anything other than the tourism promotion of a great community,” Crosier said.
Crosier said he agrees child care should have more funding, but he does not think the lodging tax should be the source of it.
"We understand the benefit to the city, but what is the gas getting out of it,” Crosier said.
Members of the lodging association are concerned about the city's decreasing lodging revenue. Crosier said room prices are lower in Pueblo because fewer people are booking Pueblo hotels.
“In closing, I ask you to please reconsider this proposal. Let's go back to the table and do it better. Let's not put our social problems on hotel guests,” Crosier said to the city council.
One council member said the tax would only cost a visitor an extra $1.77 a night. Shehorn said this could help many families in Pueblo.
“I'm hoping that voters will support the middle income families in the community who don't have other options to help subsidizer childcare,” Shehorn said.
The city council heard opinions from both sides but decided to introduce the tax on the ballot this November.
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