It seems as though there is always some utility or construction work going on around town, and in the City office we often get questions about just what is happening. For the past several months, Hill Country Telephone has had a contractor working throughout town to install new fiber optic cables so that every resident and business in Mason can, if they wish, have fast and dependable internet access. If you have seen workers who are pulling “wire” or working on the regular utility poles it is likely they have been completing the fiber optic system in your neighborhood. Once this is complete we will have one of the best small town internet access anywhere in the Hill Country. This is not a project of the City directly, so if you have questions or would like to inquire about fiber optic service for your needs contact Hill Country Telephone on the Square.
A separate project that is being completed by the City is the installation of new storm sirens in areas away from the central part of town, so that when the need arises they will be readily heard in every neighborhood. During the next few days we will have the supplier and contractor in town installing three new poles with large multi-directional sirens on top that are controlled from the Sheriff’s office or by certain other emergency staff. I suspect that they will be significantly louder than the single siren located near the Library that has been the only emergency alert for Mason for many years. The new sirens will be located near the curve of El Paso as it joins Ave F, and in the alley on East Pontotoc just to the east of the S-curve, and the third will be on Highway 29 at the “old” Highway department yard (where Clay Lindsey has his shop now). If you see construction in these areas in the coming week, please drive carefully and if you hear some unexpected warning signals from the new sirens just be aware that they will need to be tested and all of the controls functioning before the installation is complete.
In the City office we have been working for the past couple of months to complete the annual budget process. This coming year we will not have the significant construction project of the waste water treatment plant, however as everyone knows there are some expenses that just continue to increase each year. The City Administrator and I have been discussing the budget with the department heads and have spent time at the past two regular City Commission meetings going over specific details and general plans and projects. This week I will file the final draft with the City Secretary, and from that time on for the next month any citizen who would like a copy may stop by the City office and receive a full copy of the proposed revenues and spending we are projecting for the coming fiscal year. In tandem with this budget are some proposed changes to the utility rates that the City charges for these services, so that we can continue to improve and provide the level of customer satisfaction you have learned to expect. The last time we made many changes to the rate and fee schedule was in September 2010, so no change for four years is a pretty good record for managing the resources and needs of our town. The Budget and the Rate increases will be discussed at the next regular meeting of the City Commission on August 11, and a Public Hearing and final action will be taken during the regular September Commission meeting. If you have any concerns or questions, please feel free to stop by and talk with me or any other elected official, and if you would like to voice your opinions in a public setting please come to one of the meetings of the Commission where everyone is welcome and all comments are heard and considered.
The reconstruction of the waste water treatment plant is nearing completion, and as we have begun to utilize the portions already on-line we have found that our bacteria and other indicator readings at the end of the plant have very significantly improved. The previous layout of the sewer plant was put in service about thirty years ago and the function of the plant had not been the best for several years, but it is a great relief to the City crews to know that everything is truly under control for a change. This has been a major project and has required several years of planning and eventual construction, but like most of the improvements around town it is well worth the effort when complete. The City of Mason is continually working to improve the many different services we provide to our residents, and if you have any suggestions or ideas we would be glad to hear them. This is truly a great hometown, and as we work together it will continue to improve and be even better for our future.
Your friend and neighbor, Brent