The Christmas and New Years weekends are behind us, most of the decorations are packed away till next year, and I have heard several people worry about losing the extra pounds gained from the good food and many sweets. It is always a challenge to remember to date checks for 2010, but if that is your major problem this week I would think you should count yourself lucky. The City of Mason is continuing to function well, and with the New Year a few changes are in the works. For one thing, if you have obligations to the Municipal Court and have not taken care of them it might be a good idea to start the New Year by dealing with them and getting a clean slate. At the December City Commission meeting the Court was authorized to begin working with the Omni Base system to register offenders who fail to resolve fines or obligations. This will allow the Court to report offenders and through this system coordinate the efforts with DPS so that their drivers license cannot be renewed until the fines are paid. This will not affect most of the citizens of Mason, but we hope that it will give extra strength to our law enforcement and our Municipal Judge to hold people responsible for their actions and the consequences of not dealing with them.
Another change as a result of our December meeting will allow the City Code Enforcement Officer a little more latitude in identifying locations that need work because they are out of compliance. A little over two years ago the City began a serious effort to enforce the various codes that had been on the books for many years. Some of the specific ordinances were rewritten to clarify and bring them into line with state regulations, for instance the Junk Vehicle Ordinance was changed to meet new regulations and state the requirements clearly and in ways that would update the previous thirty year old ordinance. Since that time a number of unsightly junk vehicles have been moved and areas cleaned up as people have worked with the city to meet these new rules. In addition, the Code Enforcement Officer has worked with a number of other citizens to resolve complaints about high weeds, trash and debris, and unsafe structures around town. The process we have worked with has been refined to be rather successful, and in the few situations where citizens were unwilling to cooperate, the Municipal Court has provided the judicial function to process and helped to enforce reasonable compliance with the Ordinances the City has adopted.
The intent of Code Enforcement has always been to encourage the clean-up and maintain the beauty of our town, as well as to provide for the health and safety of our citizens through the ordinances and their oversight. Initially we sought to identify problem areas through complaints voiced by citizens, and worked to resolve those issues that were brought to our attention in this way. This has worked very well as individuals have become more aware of the specific ordinances, and has given a direct outlet for people to voice their concerns and see action taken to correct some of the problem areas around town. Now the City Commission has taken the next step and encouraged the Code Enforcement Officer to note individual situations and begin working to resolve them as a part of the duties of the job rather than waiting for an independent citizen complaint. This now becomes a common goal between the city employees and the citizens to make Mason a better community by addressing the questionable areas and identifying locations that not only detract from the beauty of our town, but also present health and safety problems for our citizens.
The City of Mason has worked hard to promote the clean-up of our town over the past couple of years, and we can all be proud of the results. We have never wanted to seem to be a "policeman" of local beauty, but we have tried to apply the rules fairly and equally to everyone so that we can all live in a town that is safe and pleasant. If you have questions about the specific rules, the Junked Vehicle Ordinance or the newly revised Nuisance Ordinance, you can read them at the city web site www.mason.tx.citygovt.org for yourself. If you have other questions or concerns, please contact me at my email firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call at the city office at 347-6449 and I will try to get you good answers. We hope that as we move forward into the New Year with new plans to protect the charm and character of our town, you will continue to work with us as a community to make Mason the very best hometown in Texas.
Your friend and neighbor, Brent Hinckley