By David Hazledine
MILFORD — Representatives from Michiana Area Council of Governments will be back in Milford conducting income surveys as part of an effort on behalf of the town to obtain a Community Development Block Grant from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs.
The matching grant would pay $90,000 of the cost of planning for improvements to Milford’s aged water and wastewater infrastructure. Milford would pay 10% in matching funds.
MACOG’s Brett Roberts, a community development planner, explained this second round of surveys will mostly be conducted over a two-week period between Aug. 16-27. The process requires 37 households or 91 individuals – utility customers – to be randomly sampled. Questions include the number living in a particular household and whether their income reaches a particular threshold. All information is kept confidential.
A grant prerequisite is 51% of the population must be in the low- to moderate-income bracket; however, the first survey conducted in June found 49%, roughly one household off the mark. Due to the narrow margin, OCRA allowed a new survey of a different random sample.
MACOG officials are confident Milford’s demographics meet the requirements. “We just need to prove it through this process,” said Roberts.
OCRA uses money from the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide matching grants to help smaller communities plan for future development. “Small towns can apply for the grant every quarter,” Roberts commented.
Roberts also encouraged anyone who is surveyed to ask about the process and “tell us about their experiences with Milford utilities … low pressure, if the water is not clear … and we can include that in the grant information, and provide an actual narrative of what is happening in this town.”
Information provided will also help show where future growth might happen and assist the town in thinking strategically about improving services in the next five to 10 years.
Roberts also stressed that those surveyed should answer honestly. “We’re confident the town will qualify.”
Talk of the survey comes as the town remains under a boil order while maintenance is done on a water valve.
“We know the system is old in parts, almost 100 years in some areas,” Roberts added. And while OCRA grants are no longer used to fund actual construction projects, he said, “The grant will help plan for future.”
The deadline for Milford’s OCRA grant application is Oct. 15. In early November the town will find out if the money will be allocated.
Roberts will also be at the Milford Town Council meeting held at 7 p.m., Aug. 9, to discuss the grant in detail and answer any questions. Residents may also reach Roberts by email at [email protected] or by calling (574) 287-1829 and asking for Brett Roberts.