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KAN-STEP Initiative

Beginning as K-STEP, the Kansas Small Town Environmental Program decided that the name KAN-STEP much more suitably fits the program concept.  The program is designed to help Kansas communities with an acknowledged water or sewer problem solve that problem through sweat equity and volunteerism at the local level.  KAN-STEP provides direction, technical assistance, guidance and support to help make it happen.  Thus, self-help is achieved at a substantial savings -- at least 40 percent -- over the marketplace price. 

Many smaller communities throughout Kansas cannot afford high construction costs without raising water or sewer rates to unmanageable levels.  Without long-term loans or limited grants, the only solution must be to lower the cost of the project.  One way to do this is to return to the days of neighbor helping neighbor.  Self-help requires communities to evaluate what parts of a project they can complete on their own.  Many communities do not realize the various skills and equipment their neighbors and local government have available until they begin the process.  The community acts as the general contractor, organizing local labor and equipment and coordinating the work that needs to be done by a  subcontractor.  

KAN-STEP has engaged the expertise and experience of The Renselaerville Institute (TRI) outside Albany, New York, to make self-help feasible for interested communities in Kansas.  TRI has assisted small communities throughout the country in self-help since 1984.  Currently, 17 states are receiving advice and support from TRI and STEP (Small Towns Environmental Program).  

Three main strategies are addressed through KAN-STEP:
     1. Use of local resources, such as municipal road equipment and volunteer labor to reduce construction costs;
2. Controlling costs by the community acting as the general contractor;
3. Choosing the simplest and lowest costing technology to reduce capital and operational costs.

Instead of the usual method of applying for a grant and starting with the resources gained, the STEP process begins with looking at the affordability of the community, what local resources can be brought to the project, choice of technology, and other cost reducers as compared to full retail costs.  A grant then from the Kansas Department of Commerce & Housing provides gap financing, if needed.  

For more information on KAN-STEP and whether the program is the best route for your community, contact Marilyn Graham, Community Development Block Grant Program, KDOCH, Topeka, Kansas  66603.   Telephone number (785) 296-3004.   


 


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This page last updated 01/16/12 01:32:11 PM
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