Menconi undaunted by recall effort
BASALT Eagle County Commissioner Arn Menconi isn’t letting a recall attempt intimidate him from trying to raise money for early childhood development in Eagle County.Menconi appeared before the Basalt Town Council Tuesday night to urge the board to donate to a countywide effort to raise funds for child-care facilities and programs.”It’s a good day when somebody tries to recall you for trying to help kids,” Menconi told the council members.Child care has been a pet project for the second-term commissioner. He headed an unsuccessful effort last November to get county voters to approve a $3.5 million property tax increase for early childhood facilities and programs.Although the measure failed, Menconi and commissioners Peter Runyon and Sara Fisher approved more than $1 million in funding from the county’s general fund for similar purposes. They approved a $700,000 contribution as well as a $350,000 challenge grant contingent on the community donating $350,000.Menconi is stumping among municipal governments, major employers, service organizations and individuals seeking donations.The effort placed Menconi in the targets of a recall effort. A group filed paperwork necessary to launch a formal recall attempt on July 17. Group leaders have said they are upset that Menconi kept pushing for county funding of early childhood causes against the alleged will of the people.Recall proponents must collect nearly 4,400 signatures by the end of July to force a recall election in November. Menconi, a Democrat, will leave office because of term limits at the end of his second term in 2008 even if the recall fails.Menconi acknowledged Tuesday in Basalt that some people are opposed to government funding of child care. But he and Eagle County Health and Human Services Director Kathleen Forinash painted a dire picture of the needs in the area.Eagle County has more than 8,000 children younger than 9 and nearly 6,000 under age 6, according to their presentation. Many families cannot meet day-to-day needs of their children. Nearly four in 10 families have incomes below the “self-sufficient standard of $38,695 per year,” they said. About 60 percent of families with children younger than 6 need child care in order to work.Forinash said availability of affordable child care is critical for attracting and maintaining a high-quality work force. It’s as important of a factor as housing and health care, she said.The Eagle County proposal, called the BrightStart Program, aims to raise $1.5 million for its first-year budget. A list of proposed expenditures is available for potential donors to examine.Several Basalt Town Council members spoke in favor of contributing funds to the BrightStart Program, but they deferred a decision Tuesday until a future budget hearing.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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