Results from the John Day and Canyon City local income survey indicate 57.3 percent of residents qualify as low or moderate income, according to census criteria established by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The Survey Research Lab at Portland State University worked with the city of John Day to conduct the survey, which will help determine if they can qualify for a federal Community Development Block Grant to partially fund the new wastewater treatment plant to serve both cities.
To qualify for the CDBG funds, 51 percent or greater was needed. A total of 362 families in the service area responded to the anonymous survey, providing an overall response rate of 77.4 percent.
The survey found that 209 families representing 461 residents were in the low or moderate income categories. But the results also revealed a polarized distribution of incomes in the city, Green said.
A total of 157 families or 43.4 percent of the responding families reported family income below $29,900 and 54 families or 14.9 percent reported family incomes from $29,901 to $34,150, while 81 families or 22.3 percent reported family incomes of $56,301 or more. The six income categories in the middle accounted for only 19.4 percent of the families.
Councilor Paul Smith commented that the city lacked median wage jobs. Councilor Dave Holland said timber mill jobs paid those median wages, but the mills are gone. Mayor Ron Lundbom said he believed the city has been in this state for a long time.
Public wastewater projects could receive as much as $2.5 million from the CDBG program. According to City Manager Nick Green, the city will submit the income survey results to Business Oregon for certification and then begin the application process for preliminary engineering funds to design the new wastewater treatment facility.
According to the city’s time line, Anderson Perry of La Grande and Sustainable Water of Richmond, Virginia, will complete a Wastewater Facilities Master Plan and reclaimed water feasibility study by June. The city will then choose a design, and preliminary engineering will begin sometime after July 1, Green said.