Results of income survey could help City obtain grant for sidewalks

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By SHELLY WILKISON

The City of Liberty Hill will contact 44 households in the old town area this weekend as part of an anonymous survey of residential income.

City officials say the survey, which will be conducted by Business Services Company, an independent consulting firm, will collect information that will be used by Williamson County to determine the City’s eligibility for a Community Development Block Grant. The grant will be decided based primarily on the income level of the residents who will benefit directly from the project. If approved, the grant will be used to construct more sidewalks in old town.

The survey was also placed in the US Mail this week.

Senior Planner Sally McFeron said two interviewers will be wearing credentials identifying them as contractors for the City of Liberty Hill, and will be knocking on doors from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 28-29.

Residents will be asked about the number of families living in the household, the number of individuals residing there, their ethnicity, and the estimated total combined income
for the household.

McFeron stressed that the results of the survey will not be made available to city staff or local elected officials, but instead will be tabulated and compiled by Williamson County’s CDBG office, which will use the findings to make the final determination.

The City estimates that Phase 2 of the sidewalk project will cost about $215,000 for construction plus $26,000 for engineering. A block grant has already been approved for Liberty Hill to pay for the engineering services. If funded by the Community Development Block Grant, Phase 2 construction should be complete in 2019.

The City received a block grant to pay for Phase 1 of the sidewalks in old town. That project was completed in spring 2016 at a cost of $282,000.

Assistant City Administrator Amber Lewis explained that the City did not do an income survey to secure funding for Phase 1 in 2016. She said information was obtained from the 2010 census as the basis for that award.

“Liberty Hill use to be just eligible,” she said. “They redrew the census tracts and basically Liberty Hill got divided into a pie, into five different census tracts and it encompassed more area (than old town) and went out to where the wealthier residents lived. We weren’t eligible anymore and so it kicked us out of the program.”

Those tracts showed higher income levels for Liberty Hill, making the City proper ineligible to receive another grant based on residential income levels.

“We think we can continue to achieve income eligibility by doing an income survey because we would just look at the project, which would be Liberty Hill proper,” Lewis said.

McFeron said that while the community will benefit from connectivity throughout old town, only 44 houses will get direct benefit from the use of the sidewalks. Therefore, the income survey will only involve those households. While the firm is seeking a 100 percent response rate, McFeron said 41 responses are required.

The County has already approved the grant to pay for the engineering of the sidewalks in Phase 2. If the City does not qualify for construction funding because of the results of the survey, it will not receive the engineering grant.

McFeron said because of drainage problems in the area, the construction of sidewalks will help improve some of those problems.

The City has a sidewalk plan that will provide connectivity throughout old town in five phases, and officials plan to continue seeking CDBG funding for all phases.

“Sidewalks are good projects for CDBG (funding) because a lot of people get the benefit from it. It’s an easy project,” Lewis said.

The City is paying $2,300 for the survey, and will be notified by March if the grant is funded.

News@LHIndependent.com

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