With the start of this new month, most of our residents have received your utility bills, and I hope that you are not too alarmed by any increases. As I have said before, most of the increases are in water, sewer and garbage rates and these may be higher because of the rates, but the electricity rates are staying very steady for the past several months. The increase you might notice in electric charges are from the hotter days in late summer and represent additional usage rather than increases in rates since the bill you receive now is for usage from mid-August to mid-September when the meters are read. If you have concerns about the increases, we have started a utility coupon program that will assist our residents over the age of 65 who have limited incomes, and I encourage you to come by the City office and talk with the staff about this assistance.
We received information in the City office a couple of weeks ago that we would not be receiving any funding for the grant application I submitted several months ago for the rebuilding of the sidewalks and access around the Square. There were over 200 applications submitted and only 54 were selected, and most of those were in urban areas, so there is no reason to feel this is not a good project, just that there is not enough money to meet all the requests made. I have talked with another grant program and will certainly continue to seek help with this problem, but in the mean time our city crews will address some of the issues on our own. We have identified locations for over a dozen additional handrails to assist our residents and visitors to get up the steps around the Square, and we should be installing those in the next several weeks and repainting all of the railings so that things look fresh and clean for the holiday season. I do not know of any way we can completely rebuild the sidewalks without outside grant money or aid, but we will do all that we can to maintain our town with our resources and provide the best for our citizens.
In that same scheme, last week the City Commission approved for the City crews to begin construction of the restroom and reverse osmosis building at the Civic Center property, rather than pay outside contractors 40% or more than we had estimated it would cost to build that structure. We anticipate a considerable savings and we can do it in a reasonable time frame with better results, and we will continue to provide more services to our community on our own. That is one of the best attitudes in Mason, the willingness to do all we can with all we have to provide all we need. We at the City continue to do that every day, and we hope that we can work with our residents to make this a better hometown each and every day. One small way we found to make a change and promote communication with our residents was to install a message board sign in the City office window. Drive by some time and read what is posted as news and keep up with some of the things going on around town, and if you would like us to post some news or message just let the office know. If you have ideas or suggestions, please let us know; and if you would like to participate in the working process come to the next City Commission meeting on Monday, October 11 at 5:30 pm at the Richard Eckert Civic Center. We would be glad to have you and be pleased to hear any comments you would like to make about Mason and the ways we can all work together to make this be best hometown in Texas.
Your friend and neighbor, Brent Hinckley