SEKRCC completes low-income survey for block grant

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

After four months of persistent efforts, the Southeast Kansas Regional Correctional Center has completed its Low to Moderate Income (LMI) survey of Scott Township residents.

SEKRCC work release supervisor Jimmy Nichols told Bourbon County commissioners last week that the results of the survey show that more than 51 percent of Scott Township residents are LMI, meaning the county does qualify for a Community Development Block Grant issued by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The grant, worth $400,000, would be used for upgrades and remodels at the correctional center. Nichols said the county can apply for the grant through the year 2012. He added that if the county hopes to apply this year, it must do so by Nov. 1. If the county does not apply by Nov. 1 and chooses to wait until next year, Nichols said, another LMI survey would be required and a larger percentage of residents would have to deemed LMI for the county to qualify. In addition, the county must show a preliminary architect's report for the jail project in early October.

Nichols told commissioners that if approved, the SEKRCC would be the first jail to ever receive the grant.

"They've never helped a jail do this before," Nichols said. "It could work in our favor, or it may work against us. They might say 'We've never done this before. Why start now?'."

Nichols also told commissioners that a stipulation in the grant says that the county must match any funds awarded by the grant. Commissioner Bill Brittain said that the county will more than match the funding with the project itself.

"All we have to do is put together a project, saying 'Okay, this is what it costs and this is what our income off of it will be,' and that shows where the funding is," Brittain said. "You just have to show where that matching funding is coming from. You have to show how you're going to pay for it."

The county is in discussions with HMN Architects, a firm that has offered commissioners the chance to fund the jail project through a lease-purchase program. Brittain said the county likes the prospect of the lease-purchase program.

HMN Architects recently faxed the SEKRCC a rough sketch of the architectural schematic plan for the jail project. Brittain said that if HMN's project is the one they choose, then that layout would act as the preliminary architect's report that is due in October.

Nichols said he hopes to apply for the grant this year.

"The main thing is getting it in so we don't lose our status," Nichols said. "We will still be qualified through 2012, so this would be as good a time as any to start."

Nichols added that, based on this year's survey, he would not want to conduct another.

"It took a lot of calls, a lot of getting cussed at, then waiting a day or two and calling right back," Nichols said. "It's finally done, though."

Nichols said a lot of the problems with the survey involved residents thinking the surveyors were telemarketers. He added that he also found that some residents don't like talking about their income to strangers over the telephone.