HOISINGTON — City staff last week attended training for administering surveys in order for the city to challenge key Census results. The existing Census results indicate a high percentage of residents are above an income threshold required to qualify for needed Community Development Block Grants that can bring significant dollars into the community. But with recent downturns in the economy, the City feels these results are inaccurate, and are standing in the way of acquiring funding to complete needed infrastructure projects.
The initial project the City hopes to apply for would bring our wastewater treatment system into compliance with EPA regulations. The City of Hoisington has been issued an administrative order to make improvements at its wastewater treatment lagoon system. The proposed improvements would include sludge removal, upgrades to address shortcircuiting of the treatment process and the construction of a fourth cell that may make the lagoon system a non-discharging system.
The cost of these upgrades is in excess of $1.5 million, said Hoisington City Manager Jonathan Mitchell in an email to the Tribune Wednesday. This grant could provide up to $500,000 toward these improvements.
“If the City is successful in completing this project, they could pursue other projects through the CDBG program,” he said.
Some qualifying projects include water and sewer infrastructure projects, community facilities and housing.
Staff members will be meeting with the survey team this week to run through how to complete the survey on Wednesday, and surveyors could be meeting the public as early as this weekend, Mitchell said.
The city is still actively hiring surveyors who will be trying to reach out to residents when they are home, so will be going door-to-door from 5-8 p.m. weeknights, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, and 1 - 7 p.m. on Sunday. They will be asking questions pertaining to the financial profile of the people who reside in the homes they visit. Questions like how many people, related and unrelated, reside there, as well as how many families, and what is their income range.
The City hopes to find that the majority of Hoisington residents fit into the lower income ranges, which would qualify the city for the grant needed. What that income level is depends largely on the size of the family it provides for.
The survey, which Mitchell provided a copy of to the Tribune, also asks what races reside in the home and how many female heads of household live in the home.
When councilmembers asked Mitchell for clarification of what some of the terms meant, this is what he shared: Anyone over the age of 18 living in a house could be considered a family unit. For instance, if a couple’s adult child lives at home with them, that could be considered two families residing in the house. If those two families happen to be a single mother and her adult daughter, that could count as two families and two female heads of households, for example.
The survey team will be tabulating surveys every week, until they reach the 51 percent point needed to qualify for the grant. Once that percentage is reached, no more surveys will need to be done. For that reason, Mitchell couldn’t say for sure how long the survey takers could count on having the temporary job.
He also added that if a homeowner preferred to call in and take the survey over the phone, the city staff could accommodate them.