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PrattTribune - Pratt, KS
  • City officials believe wrong demographic responded to survey

  • During the summer, the City of Pratt hired Great Plains Development, Inc., of Dodge City to survey residents about their income, to determine if the city is eligible for grant money from the Kansas Department of Commerce.
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  • During the summer, the City of Pratt hired Great Plains Development, Inc., of Dodge City to survey residents about their income, to determine if the city is eligible for grant money from the Kansas Department of Commerce.
    About 1,600 surveys were returned — around 50 percent of those mailed out, a better than anticipated return, according to City Manager Dave Howard.
    Unfortunately, those surveys did not show that at least 51 percent of Pratt's population falls within the low to moderate income group, as expected.
    "I'm sure we can meet that 51 percent," Howard said, explaining, "the people you need to respond are the ones who don't."
    Only 9 percent of survey respondents met the income criteria, in a county where 44 percent of children qualify for free or reduced price school lunches, according to the latest figures from the Annie M. Casey Foundation.
    In general, the Department of Commerce defines low to moderate income as 80 percent of the median — $58,600 in Pratt County, according to 2013 application requirements. By those figures, an individual could earn up to $30,450 or a family of four up to $43,500 and still qualify as having a moderate income.
    It's not too late to return a survey, Howard said, and it's possible a grant application could still be prepared for the next cycle. In any case, the city is not giving up. Great Plains could do a second mailing, or the city could hire people to carry the survey door-to-door. That probably couldn't be accomplished in time for the next round of grants, however.
    Grants of up to $400,000, with a 25 percent match from the city, could be awarded for a variety of projects, including water, sewer or street improvement and fire protection.
    The city was interested in using a grant to purchase a new fire truck. The city is growing in general, Howard said, and has new facilities, including a couple of multi-story hotels and another one projected to be built.
    The newest fire truck is 10 years old, Howard said, adding, "it's one of those services you should always be trying to improve, with up-to-date equipment."
    He didn't have a definite price for a new truck, possibly a ladder truck, but said a typical price for a piece of new fire equipment is in the "hundreds of thousands." If the city were eligible, the fire department would do the research to determine what was needed for the money available.
    Howard noted that surveys were returned directly to Great Plains, and city staff never saw them, insuring confidentiality for the respondents.

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