Lancaster's water rates depend on federal grant

August 05, 2003|PHIL PENDLETON

LANCASTER - The amount water customers would pay each month in the wake of a $1.135 million water line improvement project depends on whether or not the city receives a Community Development Block Grant that could fund nearly half the project.

That's according to interim Utility Manager Millard Rose, who told the City Council Monday that water customers would pay 63 cents more a month if the $568,000 grant is approved. If it's not approved, customers would pay $1.49 more.

"Are we ready to throw the grant away?" Rose asked the council.

An earlier attempt to acquire the CDBG failed because a survey of Lancaster households did not show at least 50 percent of them being low to moderate income. City officials say Lancaster has a better chance of receiving the grant if it meets that statistic.

In addition, half of the surveys sent out must be correctly filled out and returned. In the previous survey distributed by the Lancaster Rotary Club, only 125 of 475 forms were returned.


Rose asked the City Council to consider hiring a professional survey team, which could result in greater participation. Such a firm would cost between $3,000 to $5,000. Several council members said if more residents turned in the survey, it could have shown that half of the city's residents are, in fact, low to moderate income.

But Don Rinthen of the Rotary Club blames the way in which the surveys were addressed. Fifty were returned because the persons they were addressed to were either deceased or had moved.

He says the surveys were sent to specific persons' names and believes they should have been more generically addressed. For example, he says they should be sent to the "resident of" each household.

Mayor Billy Moss says the water line improvement project will result in an overhaul of many of the lines that were installed in the mid 1940's to 1970's, particularly in the Danville and Richmond street areas.

Rose says many of those lines have poor water pressure and inadequate fire flow. "It's a mad house of bad lines."

The council hopes to hear from Don Hassall of Bluegrass Area Development District regarding survey methods at a special meeting next Monday.

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