Girard residents will have double incentive to fill out and return a survey in the upcoming weeks … saving themselves money and saving the city money.

Girard residents will have double incentive to fill out and return a survey in the upcoming weeks … saving themselves money and saving the city money.
The city will be mailing out a study — with the annual water report — designed to calculate the percentage of the city’s population that lives in the low-to-moderate income range. The result, for the city, is important — if the city meets a threshold where 51 percent of its population lives within that range, the city would be eligible for a variety of grants.
“Good participation will allow us to get a more accurate portrayal of where our income levels are within the city,” said Gary Emry, Girard City Administrator. “And if they come in at that 51 percent mark, it would enable us to apply for grants that we can’t currently qualify for because our LMI population is too low.”
To garner that participation, Girard City Council members approved giving prizes to those who fill out and return their surveys by the survey deadline. The prizes consist of four $250 credits toward residents’ utility bills, with one prize going to someone from each of Girard’s four wards. The prizes are an effort to increase participation levels over the last time the city issued the survey a few years ago, when about 40 percent of Girard’s residents returned the survey.
On that survey, Girard didn’t fall within the required range, but Emry said it was worth the city’s time to test again.
“Since then, the economic conditions have changed dramatically,” Emry said. “So our thought process is that we may be in a better position to qualify for it now. That was why we decided to do it right now, to try and take advantage of the current economic conditions. So we hope that will play in our favor.”
If the city does meet that status, Emry said Community Development Block Grants could be used to fund up to $400,000 of the city’s water and sewer projects. The city is currently going through the state revolving loan fund to finance those projects. The city could also qualify for a grant of up to $400,000 toward the construction of a community center.
“There is a need for those types of projects and facilities in our community,” Emry said. “Without the grants, we would have to finance them or cash build them 100 percent. So this would help to open up doors in many areas.”
But the results will depend on participation, something that Emry said related to trust.
“A lot of our success hinges on the community trusting our care taking of this sensitive information,” Emry said. “The information they provide us will be used solely for LMI, not in any other way, and it will all be kept in strict confidentiality.”
Once collected, the information will be sent to the Southeast Kansas Regional Planning Commission to tabulate, before it is provided back to Girard, and potentially the state.
“If we aren’t at 51 percent, there won’t be anything to report,” Emry said. “We’re hoping that we will qualify, and then we could jump into competing for some grants. It would lead to some great possibilities.”