‘A victory for Mason’ NAACP pleased with agreement with State Comptroller’s Office

Published: May. 5, 2022 at 6:35 PM CDT

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - It was an ultimatum that led to a legal fight.

The town of Mason was asked to either give up their charter or have their finances taken over by the state.

We’re now learning there is an agreement in place.

NAACP leaders are calling it a victory for Mason following a lawsuit filed against the State’s Comptroller’s office.

This ends a nearly three-month fight that began back in early February.

The town of Mason’s Vice-Mayor Virginia Rivers vowed to keep the town’s charter after  the State’s Comptroller called a town hall meeting and sent letters to residents explaining why the state thought it was best for the Tipton County town of just over 1300 to give up its charter and join the county.

Comptroller Jason Mumpower said Mason has a well- documented history of mishandling finances, including not submitting an audit to the state on time since 2001, an indictment for theft and the illegal use of its’ water and sewer funds.

Mumpower said developers would not want to do business with a poorly run town.

“The debt was incurred by a previous administration. This administration was actively paying it down and rapidly paying it down and yet it was this administration that received a target from the comptroller,” said Sr. NAACP General Counsel Anthony Ashton.

The request to end the predominately Black town’s charter as the billion-dollar Blue Oval project is being developed just about 5 miles away gained the support of the NAACP.

When the town opted to keep its charter, the state announced it would take over their finances. A move that prompted a lawsuit.

This week the lawsuit was dropped after an agreement was reached with the state.

The state agreed to reduce its monthly payments to its water and sewer fund in half, move its expenditure approval cap up from 100 dollars to one thousand dollars and extend the time frame to pay back the town’s nearly $248,000 water and sewer debt to four years.

“This is a great victory for the citizens of the town of Mason. It would allow them to self-correct issues that they inherited from a prior administration,” said NAACP President Derrick Johnson. Johnson went on to say,” It positions them to appreciate in the economic development opportunities in that region as they implement best practices that will allow them to gain stronger financial controls.”

Comptroller Mumpower  released this statement Wednesday:

Mason’s agreement to a new corrective action plan is a significant step in restoring the town’s financial health. By agreeing to change its practices and work with our office, Mason will operate on a balanced budget, work toward correcting audit findings, and eliminate improper borrowing. Most importantly, if Mason follows this plan, taxpayers can know their leaders are being good stewards of their money.”

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