Mason County News
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Wednesday, August 19, 2009 • Posted August 19, 2009

At last week’s City Commission meeting I presented the proposed budget for the coming fiscal year beginning November 1, and after discussion of a few specific line items, the Commission agreed that we would move forward with this proposal. Budgeting for a municipality is a tool for the citizens to be able to clearly see how your elected officials are going to spend public funds for the next year. If you want to look at all nine pages and the total $5,631,556 of our projected revenues and expenses, a copy is available for your inspection at the City Office or you can go to our web site at and see the posted budget. I would like to point out a few of the highlights of our decisions; most of our expenses represent little or no increase over last year’s budget, with no planned salary increases, although we are making a significant improvement in the retirement plan. Where there are changes we plan to hold them to a 5% increase at most. We are planning a 5% increase in the funding the city provides for the Sheriff’s department and a larger increase in contributions to the Volunteer Fire Department. We have included a sizable budget for street paving, but we are holding down all the expenses we can to balance the budget and keep the fees and rates that you pay from going up.

The City just received notification last week that we will be receiving a $200,000 grant for our water system, so we are moving ahead with the next stages of the extensions of the distribution mainlines on the west and north sides of town. We are also budgeting for a new and a used vehicle and for a couple of other capital projects, but I am looking towards several grants to help in other improvements I hope to see around town. The good thing is that most of the departmental revenues are anticipated to be growing a little so that even though we will be seeing a reduced property tax rate because of new construction and the re-valuations in the city, we will not have to look to rate increases to provide for the valuable benefits you have come to enjoy in our hometown. If you have any questions about the directions we are taking or about the proposed budget for the coming year, please do not hesitate to ask me and I will get you a clarification and answer your concerns. The Budget and the Tax Rate will be approved by the Commission in September, and there will be notices in the paper about public hearings beforehand, but the job of budgeting is to provide clear “transparency” of your city government and my job is to answer any questions you might have.

Another area that will come into completion in mid-September is the new Animal Control Ordinance that was approved several months ago. When it was passed by the City Commission, it was written to take effect six months later to allow citizens to read, understand and work at coming into compliance. As of this time the Animal Control Officer has issued 161 licenses for dogs and cats in our city, and many pet owners have worked to be sure they comply with the expectations, but as of September 18 the Ordinance goes into effect. If you have questions or concerns, please contact the City Office or talk to our ACO Barbie McGowan to get clarification, so that although in a few weeks she can begin writing more citations for such things as animal-at-large, she will not have any problems that will require many new citations under the ordinance.

Mason is moving forward with each month and with every action of the City Commission. If you have ideas, suggestions or even concerns, let us know so that we can continue to move in the direction you want your hometown to grow. Keep in mind too that with the hot weather continuing, we need to be careful in our watering and tending to the grass and landscape. We have plenty of water for everyday needs, but we will eventually have problems if our citizens are not concerned to conserve and limit the “extra” uses that drain the water system most evenings. Mason is a wonderful hometown, let us all enjoy living and working together so that our neighbors and the future generations will continue to enjoy this special corner of the Hill Country.

Your friend and neighbor, Brent Hinckley

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