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Lancaster gets OK to pay for surveys

August 17, 2003|PHIL PENDLETON

LANCASTER -- About 350 Lancaster water customers will soon be getting a letter in the mail, and it's an invitation of sorts.

The city has received the official OK to pay residents $5 to fill out surveys stating their income, in hopes of getting a $568,000 grant to help fund a $1.1 million water line improvement project. Mayor Pro Tem Donna Murphy Powell said Don Hassall with the Bluegrass Area Development District said the city can legally pay residents to fill out their surveys and that city attorney Jimmy Sanders also gave his approval. "There's absolutely no problem with it," said Powell.

Letters will be mailed to residents asking them to visit city hall to fill out a short survey. Powell says once the survey is completed, people will be given five dollars. Upon receiving the notice, people will have 10 days to visit city hall to complete the survey.

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Lancaster needs to receive 400 completed surveys out of a pool of 475. When the Lancaster Rotary Club surveyed the town several months ago, only 125 were sent back in, leaving 350 surveys that need to completed to be eligible for the grant money. Despite the 125 correct surveys returned months ago, those people will still receive the $5. "They will be mailed a check," Powell said.

Powell said volunteers will visit residents door-to-door who don't respond to the mailed letter. "It's mandatory that we pay them at least two visits, " she said.

City officials say their chances of getting the grant are much better if it can be proven over half the city is low to moderate income.

According to the 2000 census, 50.4 percent of Lancaster residents are in the low-to-moderate income level. But Hassall has told the city that often random surveys will show income levels higher. When they fill out the surveys, people will not be asked to give their exact income. They will be asked to check a category.

Powell reminds Lancaster residents that the whole point of the surveys is to get their water bills reduced. "The water line project is not optional," she said. "There's practically no water pressure (in parts of town)," she said. Most of the project will center around installing new lines in the Danville Street, Maple Avenue, and Richmond Street areas. Mayor Billy Moss said the water lines will be constructed with "more modern" PVC type pipe.

If the city receives funding, Moss said he expects the project to begin sometime in late summer or early fall of 2004.

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