This past weekend was one of the biggest and best Round-up activities that Mason has seen in several years. The parade was great, the arts and crafts booths were better than ever, the entertainment and games added some fun and the food was as tempting as always. The Rodeo and dance was a great success and congratulations to the new Queen Caitlyn Felts and her Court. Everything for Round-up seemed to go without a hitch and a special thanks go out to the Chamber of Commerce, the Rodeo Association, the City crews and all the volunteers who worked hard to make sure we all had a good time. And to top it all off, we even had cooler temperatures and a little bit of rain on Sunday evening!
With all the activities this past weekend, we are reminded of what a blessing we have in living and working in a small rural Texas town. There have been several news reports in the past few weeks about cities around the country that were on the edge of financial collapse or were declaring bankruptcy because of the serious problems they faced. I have even had a few local residents ask me if Mason is having any problems and I am pleased to answer that we are not having any kind of problems, and in contrast are in very good shape financially and in every other way. At Monday’s City Commission meeting we reviewed the annual audit of last year’s finances for the City, and like the past few year’s reports Mason is financially very healthy and even prospering as we continue to prepare for the future.
The audit showed that the net assets of the City of Mason increased by $600,000 with the replacement of several vehicles and equipment and the improvements to the water system, including the new electronic meters, and the reverse osmosis facility. Employee pensions, which have indicated the problems of many other towns, are in good shape for Mason with funding at over 87% of current actuarial valuation which is a great indicator of our Commission taking care of business appropriately. In addition, the City of Mason continues to hold significant funds in Certificates of Deposit to fund possible emergencies, landfill closure costs, future purchase of emergency vehicles, and planned improvements in the City’s infrastructure. If you would like to read through the entire 73 pages of the audit I will be glad to loan you a copy, but the quick summary is that your town is in great financial shape, ready to move into the future and better able to serve your local needs.
The other major financial job that the City Administrator and I have spent many hours working on for the past several weeks is the budget for the coming fiscal year. We have worked to adjust the day to day activity expenses and revenues as well as salaries to reflect current spending and future projections and are now looking at the Capital projects that need to be funded and how to best work them into the budgeted spending. Just like at any home, there are more “I want” projects than money to make them happen, but we have some things that really need attention in the coming year. We are planning on funding the first phase of the rebuilding of the waste water treatment plant, a project that has to happen and will benefit everyone in town, and are looking at other projects to determine their priority. The City has some specific equipment needs, we are considering improvements at the Community Building and the Civic Center, there is some possibility of additional facilities at our parks, there is street and bridge maintenance that must be done, and we are considering more warehouse space to store equipment and utility inventory out of the weather.
These are some of the projects the City Commission must prioritize and plan for funding, but if you have suggestions or ideas for other projects around town, now is the time to let your Commissioner know so that we can consider it as we make plans for the future. We are planning only very minor rate increases for a few special services and fees, and there will not be much change in tax rates (although we do not regulate your appraised values, which may have increased), so our plan is keep the cost of our services at their present level and work to provide the infrastructure that will benefit us all.
Mason is a great hometown, and we are looking to the future to continue the fine job we have been doing of serving our community. If you have concerns or ideas we want to hear from you, for together we can make this the best hometown in Texas.
Your friend and neighbor, Brent Hinckley