Township residents express unease over proposed income survey

YELLOW CREEK – Yellow Creek Township trustees had proposed a township income survey at their previous meeting on Feb. 14 in order to help them apply for a broader array of grants.

Trustees had solicited the opinions of residents regarding the survey, and that’s just what they received at Tuesday evening’s meeting.

According to trustee Kenny Biacco, the survey is required for county approval before forwarding the applications on to state and federal agencies offering the grants.

Residents would be asked to supply only their address, the number of people in the home and total household income. According to Biacco, envelopes mailed in with completed surveys would remain sealed until they reach the Columbiana County Development Department in Lisbon.

“It’s all confidential,” he said. “The three people who will be looking at these will be Tad Herold, who’s an attorney, and [department administrators] Marie Cox and Pam Dray. Those are the only three people.”

Township fiscal officer Debbie Lyle says the cost of conducting the survey by mail – including mailing and return envelopes, printing the surveys and cover letters, and postage – would come to approximately $1,500.

Although going door-to-door to each home in the township or asking residents to come to the township building to complete the survey there have also been considered, mail was considered the best option for confidentiality and timeliness.

While Biacco said successful completion of the survey was no guarantee of actually winning grants, he believes that doing so is critical for economic progress in Yellow Creek. “If the people cooperate, yes, it’s probably the best $1,500 we ever spent,” he said.

There was some pushback from residents present at the meeting, however, who frankly stated their suspicions of the survey question regarding income. “My question is: Why do they have to know how much money I make? I don’t understand,” one said. He assured trustees that most residents wouldn’t cooperate and that the effort would be a waste of time and money.

“I think you’ll be disappointed,” another said.

Biacco expressed his frustration with such attitudes. “That’s sad, that’s really sad,” he said. “If you plan on living here, if you’ve got kids, if you’ve got grandkids, this township is going to stay where it’s at. Without this survey, we’re not going to go anywhere.”

After more questions regarding why the information was needed by the county and how other communities had implemented their surveys, Biacco agreed to invite Herold to an upcoming meeting to field residents’ questions about the matter.