The Cortez City Council is considering city-provided day care service.
City Manager John Dougherty proposed the concept in a memo to the City Council on Tuesday. He said he has heard anecdotally that day care in Cortez was hard to find. He wrote in the memo that he is “loathe to expand the empire,” but pitched day care as a way to attract businesses and residents to Cortez.
“It seems to me that everywhere you go, day care is a serious problem,” Dougherty said. “So we can make this an economic development tool.”
Dougherty wants to gauge interest from the City Council before city staff spends more time drafting proposals.
Dougherty said the day care program could be operated at the Cortez Recreation Center, where the city already offers child care while people work out from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday for $3 per child per hour. He said the city could reserve a certain number of spots for the county, school district and hospital, but anyone could apply. He said large businesses like Osprey might also want to participate.
“For us it would be just break even, whereas anybody else is going to try to make money at it,” Dougherty said.
Councilor Jill Carlson said she is interested knowing total number of kids the Cortez Recreation Center could accommodate and the potential cost to parents. She added that if the city wanted to care for infants, the day care program would need additional safety precautions.
“It’s not a bad idea, I want to be very clear, but I think that there are probably a lot of things that in this five-minute discussion we haven’t even considered,” Carlson said.
Councilor Sue Betts also said she wants data. Betts, a former police officer who has worked many night shifts, said there could be some consideration for parents who would have to pick up their children after 6 p.m.
Planning and Building Director Sam Proffer said the Cortez Recreation Center would probably not require retrofitting or additional safety measures for a day care program. He said the building has fire, life and safety equipment installed beyond what was required.