Income surveys in TC mailboxes this week

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Data crucial in quest for some stimulus funds; information will be kept confidential

By Vince Luecke

TELL CITY - An income survey getting under way in Tell City this week could be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to the community as it vies for grants administered by the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs.

City leaders ask residents who receive the surveys to carefully complete and return them.

"We can't stress enough how important this information is in helping the city compete for some of these funds," Tell City Mayor Barbara Ewing said Friday.

Some funds offered through federal stimulus and disaster-recovery programs are based on the percentage of residents who fall into certain income brackets. Survey results will establish the city's eligibility for grants that have income requirements among their criteria.

Indiana 15 Regional Planning Commission is helping the city conduct the survey, which includes a mailing followed up by door-to-door visits, if needed.

Ewing stressed the confidentiality of surveys, explaining that completed forms will not go to City Hall but to Indiana 15's Ferdinand office. Income amounts are not associated with names, but addresses, she added.

Addresses are selected at random and not all residents will receive surveys. Residents will begin receiving notices later this week. Anyone who wants more information should contact City Hall at 547-5511 or Nathan Held at Indiana 15 at (812) 367-8455.

The city is eyeing Office of Community and Rural Affairs funds for three projects, including Pestalozzi Street drainage improvements between 17th and 18th streets and lighting and sidewalk improvements for portions of Main Street not included in a rehabilitation project completed last year.

Surveys could also help the city obtain a grant to help pay for an $11 million long-term control plan that will eliminate the city's combined sewer overflows.

The largest project that could benefit from stimulus funding, the city is optimistic it will be awarded either a no-interest or low-interest loan through a state revolving fund but "any grant money will be that much less we have to borrow," Ewing said. "The biggest winners will be ratepayers."

In the planning stages for years, the CSO project is going to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management for review under a fast-track status already approved by city leaders.

Much of the project's engineering has already been completed by Bernardin, Lochmueller & Associates.

Other Funding Requests

The income surveys are just the latest push in a months-long effort to secure funds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act signed this spring by President Barack Obama.

Tell City is awaiting word from the Indiana Department of Transportation on a $400,000 request for its riverwalk project along the floodwall north of Sunset Park that will create a mile-long trail.

Another application through the Criminal Justice Institute could fund two new city police officers for three years. That application was submitted this month and the city could know as soon as late summer whether or not the money will be forthcoming. If the grant is received, the city will agree to pay salaries after the three-year grant-funding period.

A larger $1.9 million project submitted through the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority would benefit the city's oldest neighborhoods west of 12th Street and address properties between 12th Street and the Ohio River in need of revitalization.

The city had hoped to include infrastructure improvement such as street lighting and sidewalks into the project but learned those portions were not eligible for NSP funding.

Ewing has called the city's application strong but many communities are seeking funds.