Tennessee court denies Mason’s request to halt state takeover

Mason, Tennessee
Mason, Tennessee(Action News 5)
Published: Apr. 15, 2022 at 10:42 AM CDT
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MASON, Tenn. (WMC) - A Tennessee judge denied a predominantly Black town in Tipton County its request to halt a state takeover.

The ruling comes after Mason Mayor Emmit Gooden and Vice Mayor Virginia Rivers appeared in court on April 6 for a hearing regarding the town’s financial takeover.

On Thursday, the judge denied the temporary injunction, or restraining order, that would have barred Tennessee Comptroller’s Office from taking over Mason.

Tennessee Comptroller Jason Mumpower released the statement following the decision:

“I appreciate the judge’s decision that denies the motion for a temporary injunction. Our Office’s interest has always been the restoration of the town’s financial health and improved financial management. We will continue to work with Mason so that it can pay back its debts, operate on a balanced budget, and deliver timely financial statements. The citizens and taxpayers of Mason deserve a financially sound government that is set up for success.”

The comptroller’s office says the takeover stems from over 20 years of poor financial management. One of those instances includes the town’s removal of $86,000 from its two utility funds and the transfer of almost $142,000 from one to the other in January 2013.

Mason officials were notified that the transfers were illegal and were ordered to repay the money by March 15, 2013.

According to the court ruling, it was later found that Mason did not repay the money, and “Per those financials, over $185,000 in utility funds had been used for general 7 operations, and $14,919 was owed by the gas fund to the water and sewer fund.”

Over the years, Mason has acquired nearly $600,000 in debt. The court ruling states the town has a five-year period to repay it.

On March 23, Action News 5 reported that the town struck a repayment deal.

A spokesperson with the comptroller’s office emailed Action News 5 that the town has agreed to use its entire American Rescue Plan allocation of about $227,000 to settle a debt with the Mason Water and Sewer fund.

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