Last week I talked about the new LED light that the City installed at Comanche Creek Park, with the help of Alpha Beta Psi, that has significantly improved the night-time lighting there. In the past few days the City had an opportunity to purchase more of these lights at a discount, and made the commitment to go ahead and get several more to replace some particular street lights. In the next several weeks you may notice these LED lights being changed on the highway portion of the streets around the square to provide for better visibility in our highest traffic area, and then we can take the cobra head lights we have already installed there and reuse them in other areas of town. These new lights will provide better lighting on the street level with less electricity used, and will last much longer before needing maintenance. Certainly this is a win-win in every way; and when we see ways to improve our community, your City staff works to make things happen!
A couple of weeks ago I talked with a group of citizens here in town, and one point I made was that the City of Mason is in very good financial health these days. I monitor the accounts and savings regularly and had not really thought about how other people who do not know all the numbers might be pleased to know our financial position, but since they were pleased with me sharing this I will take a few sentences to let everyone know the financial state of our town. The City of Mason has about three months operating funds in several CDs that have rotating maturity dates so that some money is available if needed at most any time. These are set aside as Emergency or Contingency Funds, and generally are not touched unless a significant problem arises. We also have over $400,000 in specified Infrastructure CDs to be used for large projects like the upcoming renovations at the Sewer Plant; we are very carefull in spending these monies because this takes several years of “savings” to build up enough money to be significant as we upgrade the infrastructure of our town. We also have a sizable savings for eventual Landfill Closure to pay for maintaining and monitoring the landfill area, once it is full of garbage in several years, for the following thirty years as is required by state law. We continue to add to this fund each year so that when needed future generations of citizens will not have a financial burden to bear because of the habits of our present residents. Our final CD is for money set aside for eventual Emergency Vehicle purchases, since the City and County share the responsibility of providing ambulance and fire trucks to protect our neighbors. All together the City has set aside nearly $1,500,000 for the future and improvement needs of our community, and with careful budgeting this will pay for the many different challenges we face, but it is just as important that we are diligent in managing this money so that it will be there when we need to use in for our future needs.
The other aspect of financial management that the staff and I carefully monitor is the daily cash balance in the City’s operating accounts. We keep about two months of operating funds in our checking account so that we are always prepared to meet the obligations of our town as we pay for the salaries, equipment, maintenance supplies and other regular expenses. In this area we also are always considering the ways that large projects like the electronic reading water meters installation or the water tower west of town, or major purchases such as heavy equipment will affect the financial status of the City. For this reason we are currently examining financing for the improvements and reconstruction of the waste water treatment plant that we anticipate starting in the next several months. This project will cost about a million dollars in total, although it will be spread over more than a year, and I want to be certain that the City has the funds in hand for the entire project before we begin so that there are no surprises in the process. The City Commission will be discussing this in the next couple of months and the possibility of incurring some reasonable debt, and as a solution is determined I will let you know how we are going to proceed to provide this needed service for the next few decades.
The City is committed to making this the very best hometown in the Hill Country, and we are working to make sure that we are prepared to take the steps necessary to insure that and pay for the needs as they arise. Mason is healthy and financially very stable, and as we find ways to improve our town we will continue to take the steps to make this a great place to live and work.
Your friend and neighbor, Brent Hinckley