The Murfreesboro City Council approved replacing Rover buses and radios for the Police Department at its regular Thursday meeting.
Assistant Transportation Director Nellie Patton recommended the purchase of nine 23-passenger buses for use by the Rover bus system.
Patton indicated that ridership has increased from 196,500 passengers during 2011 to 254,895 in 2012, and she said the larger buses will help alleviate overcrowding.
She said the system will also add several stops throughout the city, including several to the west of Interstate 24 such as Medical Center Parkway, John Rice Boulevard, Saint Andrews Drive, Cason Lane and The Avenue Murfreesboro.
Her recommendation to accept a bid for the new buses, which was lower than the amount budgeted in the Capital Improvement Plan by $2,543, gained unanimous approval.
Police Chief Glenn Chrisman then sought his own capital improvement projects, which ranged from repairs for MPD headquarters to a new two-way radio system for the city’s officers, who are currently using 1970s communications technology.
“The purchase of these new Motorola two-way radios represents a big step in upgrading the system to current technology throughout the current city limits and the urban growth boundary,” he said.
Chrisman added the next step will be the construction of a few additional towers throughout the city.
Due to a statewide purchasing agreement with Motorola and special pricing, which ends Saturday, Dec. 29, Chrisman’s recommendation to purchase the radios represented a $200,000 savings from that budgeted in the Capital Improvement Plan.
The recommendation gained unanimous approval.
Human Resources Director Glen Godwin proposed a Wellness Program for city employees, which will begin with wellness evaluations for all those who voluntarily participate.
The evaluations will provide city administrators with valuable anonymous data which will be used to properly manage the city’s health insurance plan, City Manager Rob Lyons explained.
“We have seen health insurance for employees (become) one of our major expenses, and we intend to incentivize healthy lifestyles through this program,” he said.
“This program will be focused on getting people to use insurance as a true health plan rather than a sick plan,” said Christopher Parks, vice president of IHS, the city’s health care provider.
Godwin’s recommendation passed unanimously.
Wal-Mart plans approved
In other city news, the Planning Commission approved Wednesday a site plan for a new Wal-Mart on Memorial Boulevard.
The big box retailer submitted plans in late November for a new 180,000-square-foot store at Memorial Boulevard and Airport Road, across the road from Adams Place Assisted Living.
Residents weighed in on both sides of the issue, but because the 17.04-acre site has been zoned commercial highway since at least 1984, there was little upset neighbors could do.