Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
The Mason City City Council voted unanimously in a special meeting Tuesday afternoon to hire current Washington City Administrator Brent Hinson.
“Mason City is a community that I know very well,” Hinson said in an interview after the meeting. “I have high regard for the staff there, very high regard for the administrator.”
Mason City Administrator Aaron Burnett recommended Hinson for the job after a statewide search that started May 21 to replace the city’s former Finance Director Kevin Jacobsen, who died unexpectedly that month.
“I interviewed Brent Hinson by phone and made the decision to offer him the position as the most qualified applicant,” Mason City Administrator Aaron Burnett said in a recommendation letter to the council. “Hinson’s familiarity with North Iowa, knowledge of the complex field of government finance, experience with the unique needs of municipalities, and his strong passion for public service has prepared him to assist me in leading Mason City through the challenges facing us today.”
Hinson said he was excited to bring his experience to the city, which has a population of more than 27,000, nearly four times Washington’s.
“I’m no stranger to Mason City areas,” he said during the meeting. “I’ve worked in Iowa Falls, and as the city administrator in Garner for six years. I have lots of friends in this area, I’ve really enjoyed living in this area before and I will again.”
Hinson’s new job is titled “Deputy City Administrator/Finance Director,” a joint position that mixes the city’s financial duties — such as bookkeeping, expenditure authorizations, IT management and grant writing — with administrative duties on boards and committees.
Hinson will be the first to fill this role.
“I know there’s big shoes to fill as far as Kevin’s passing,” Hinson said at the meeting. “I have tremendous respect for the work the finance department here does. They’re just the best in the business, and I really look forward to learning quite a bit even though I’ve got 18 years of experience.”
The job offer, provided to the Mason City council, puts the position at a yearly salary of $131,186, and requires Hinson to move to Mason City by Aug 9. Hinson accepted the position, contingent on council approval, on June 4, according to the council’s information packet on the hire.
Hinson, who holds a master’s degree in public administration, has served as Washington’s city administrator since 2011, overseeing the city’s pivot to a long-term capital planning approach and more than $40 million in project expenses, according to his LinkedIn profile. Before Washington, he served as city administrator for Garner, Iowa, for six years, and finance director and city clerk for Iowa Falls for two years.
In the last year alone, Hinson oversaw the City Hall and fire station renovations, joint ventures developing the Wellness Park and new YMCA facility, and the North Fourth Avenue sewer project, all massive city developments that required long-term planning and quick reactions to unforeseen issues.
Mayor Jaron Rosien said Hinson’s diligence made him essential to city operations.
“Brent’s attention to detail, especially financial detail, has been instrumental in turning the city of Washington around a difficult corner,” Rosien said. “The infrastructure needs for the city of Washington were tremendous, and the ability to pay for infrastructure in a fiscally responsible way was a giant challenge. Brent’s attention to detail made that challenge surmountable.”
Rosien cited several examples of projects spearheaded by Hinson, including a $5.5 million water treatment plant, a new water tower, and a “housing rehab program,” where the city helped fund demolitions on land that was then used for residential construction.
“Brent doesn’t shy away from a challenge, and he’s not afraid to find solutions to big problems.” Rosien said. “I couldn’t be happier for Administrator Hinson and this new opportunity for him and his family.”
Hinson said that while he would miss the community in Washington, he felt his timing was right.
“After nine and a half years I think that the time is right and the opportunity was right in Mason City,” he said. “I feel like I’m leaving the city in very good shape … all things considered, it’s a good time for me to be taking a new career step and leaving it to other folks to carry that on.”