The Bath City Council is considering a $100,000 donation to the Bath Area Family YMCA to expand its child care program.

The money would come from federal coronavirus relief money; councilors will vote on the donation at its next meeting Sept. 6.

The YMCA had asked for $350,000, and councilors had discussed taking out a 15-year, $250,000 bond to pay the remainder but did not pursue the idea. Some councilors pointed to a planned $25 million bond to upgrade the water treatment plant as a reason to forego that kind of spending. The interest on the $250,000 bond would be nearly $90,000.

“We want to be supportive of a need that crosses so many spheres,” Councilor Roo Dunn said. “But at the same time, I’m reticent to incur public debt on this project.”

The YMCA earlier this year started construction on a $7.2 million expansion of its child care facility. It will increase the number of child care slots from 52 to 108.

YMCA CEO Rob Gray said the organization wasn’t disappointed the council isn’t planning to donate the full amount requested.


“We’re happy they’re contributing to the project at any level,” Gray said. “We have a lot of folks on the ground in the community working to raise money to complete this effort. We’re grateful to everyone at every level who has contributed to this project.”

The Y has raised about $4 million so far. It has requested $30,000 each from West Bath, Arrowsic, Woolwich, Phippsburg and Georgetown. Gray said they asked Bath for more money since 54% of its students in child care are from the city. Those communities have not yet decided if they are going to contribute, Gray said.

“Everyone is aware of the child care crisis,” Gray said. “In each of these communities, there are families that are struggling and we’re glad we can be a safety net.”

He said the Y has a waiting list of 60 children for child care. He said most child care facilities in the Midcoast have waiting lists and said more than 100 child care operations have closed since the coronavirus pandemic.

A recent report found a lack of child care workers in Maine means providers are unable to enroll about 10,000 children, while officials said the lack of child care options for parents is a drain on the state’s economy to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars a year in lost productivity because of parents who have to miss work.

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