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Income surveys needed for sewer system grant

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BAILEY — Town commissioners knocked on doors last weekend. Although it’s election time, they weren’t asking for votes.

Instead, they were seeking income information as part of a federal grant application for up to $2 million to repair the town’s aging sewer system and lift a state-imposed moratorium on new sewer taps.

“Reaction has been mostly positive,” said Mayor Pro-tem Dwan Finch, who is spearheading the process.

The town board hopes to score up to $2 million over three years from a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant through the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality.

Town officials would use the funds to replace clay sewer lines. New sewer lines would go a long way toward the state lifting its 2003 moratorium, Fitch said.

“I want to get off this sewer moratorium,” Finch said.

In order to receive the grant, the town must record income information for residents. Town officials are trying to make the process as easy as possible. The town mailed a letter explaining why it needs the information and a Spanish-speaking volunteer is helping with necessary translations.

It’s important everyone cooperate because anyone who refuses must be marked down at the high end of the income scale, Finch said.

The survey also asks participants whether they would be interested in a job associated with placing the new sewer lines.

Fitch said she’s learned most people are at home on weekends or after 4 p.m. weekdays. She and Commissioner Joel Killion spent Saturday morning asking survey questions.

The block grant is one of the longest-running HUD programs providing funds to local community development activities with the stated goal of providing affordable housing, anti-poverty programs and infrastructure development, according to information provided by the agency.

In 2013, the N.C. General Assembly allocated CDBG funds for infrastructure needs. The funds are to be used to construct public water and sewer infrastructure to mitigate public and environmental health problems in areas where at least 51% of residents have low to moderate incomes.

Fitch said Bailey is in a goldmine area but in order to see economic growth, the town must get the sewer moratorium lifted.

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