Mason residents seem split about next steps over request to rescind town charter

Published: Mar. 10, 2022 at 10:35 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The state of Tennessee is putting pressure on the town of Mason to make a decision about what to do about their charter.

State officials responded to Action News 5 via email Thursday afternoon which said the state gave the town until March 15 to meet with residents about the proposal.

“We are going to keep our charter. That’s a definite,” said Virginia Rivers, Vice-Mayor of Mason.

She made her pitch to keep Mason on the map after the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury Jason Mumpower announced last month the state is asking the town of just over 1,300 to rescind their charter and be instead governed by the county or be taken over by the state.

“Don’t sign away your charter. Keep your rights,” said Gloria Sweet-Love, President of the Tennessee NAACP.

Thursday night it was standing room only at a town hall meeting that was called after a letter was sent to every Mason resident last week by the comptroller.

Mumpower pointed out in the letter the town has a 20-year history of mismanagement of funds, late audits and a loss of major revenue from the closure of CoreCivic prison as to why he wanted Mason to rescind its charter.

“When I saw that letter I was really shocked and unhappy with that letter because a lot of it is not true and he’s trying to split our city,” said Rivers.

“We have made big improvements and the things that are being told are not true. We do still have debt, but we are able to pay our bills. We are not in default,” said Rivers.

During the meeting, town officials pointed to getting up to date with audits, lowering their expenditures and hiring necessary personnel such as a city attorney and planner to get their town back on track.

“I think it’s a joke. I really do,” said one longtime Mason resident. She says she’s heard these promises all before.

She said, “I don’t think they’re going to follow through with it because they never do. We never get anywhere. Our water is horrible.”

State officials say they are concerned Mason will lose out on money from the multi-billion dollar Ford Blue Oval City Megasite being built just a short distance away.

Mumpower says businesses will not do work within a poorly run town.

“What we would like for them to do is come in and try to help us. That’s all we need for them to help us a long time ago,” said Rivers.

There was no decision made Thursday night.

Construction for the Ford Blue Oval City starts March 15th.

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