Lancaster hopes to pay residents to take survey

August 12, 2003|PHIL PENDLETON

LANCASTER - If you pay them, they will come.

That's the thinking behind a plan the Lancaster City Council has to have enough surveys returned in its quest to get a $600,000 Community Development Block Grant to help fund a $1.1 million water line improvement.

And in perhaps an unprecedented move, the council hopes to be able to pay residents $5 to return their surveys.

"We're going for it," Mayor Bill Moss said, pumping his fist in the air as the council unanimously agreed to survey residents again.

The council hopes to get enough surveys to show the city has at least a slight majority of low to moderate income residents. City officials have been told their chances of getting the grant are much better if it's proven that 51 percent of the population is low to moderate income. Low to moderate income is defined as a family of four making $39,300 or less.


Don Hassall with the Bluegrass Area Development District told the council Monday night that he will check to see if the city can legally pay people to fill out the surveys, a plan suggested by Councilman Randy Stathers. "Five dollars per resident sounds like a winning plan. But I need to check on it," said Hassall.

400 surveys needed

The city needs to collect 400 surveys. The city sent out 475 forms in a previous survey, only to get 125 back. Last Monday, Interim Utility Manager Millard Rose told the council it may want to look into a professional firm to survey residents at a cost of $3,000 to $5,000. But Hassall and Chris Wells with the Rural Community Assistance Program offered no advice to that end. Instead, Wells suggested the council recruit local volunteers, such as a senior citizens group or a high school club, to pass out the surveys.

Councilwoman Cecelia Adams said she was not too anxious about getting teenagers to survey residents. "My experience is that seniors (citizens) do a good job," she said.

If the council can legally pay $5 per survey, the plan is to mail the surveys, then require people to return them in person to collect the five dollars. If the five-dollar plan doesn't fly, surveyors may have to go door to door. Either way, there must be at least one encounter between the surveyor and those surveyed that is face to face, Hassall said.

If the city does not get the grant and proceeds with the water line project, water customers' bills will increase $1.49 a month ($17.86 a year). Rose said if the city does receive the grant, bills would only increase about 63 cents a month ($7.57 a year.)

Other business

In other business Monday the council:

* Discussed annexation. Councilman Daniel Napier suggested the council explore taking in land around the new Ky. 52 east of town. He said a lot of that space is vacant now, but will grow in the future. Moss said the city limits end at Southern States now. If the council proceeds with annexation, it must follow a number of steps including sending out letters to affected residents and holding a public hearing.

*Held the second reading of the tax ordinance. The council passed the final reading of tax rates for the 2003-2004 fiscal year. "We're retaining the same rates we've had the last few years, except one," said Moss. Real estate will be taxed at 15 cents per $100 of assessed property. Last year's rate was 16.8 cents. Tangible and personal property will be 19 cents per $100, and automobiles and boats will be taxed at 23.3 cents per $100 of assessed property. Bank shares will be set according to state law.

People who pay their tax bills by October 31 will receive a 2 percent discount. Bills not paid by Jan. 1 will be subject to a 10 percent penalty.

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