Murfreesboro unanimously approved diversifying its portfolio by refinancing more than a third of its outstanding debt.
For years, Murfreesboro has used the Tennessee Municipal Bond Fund to finance large capital projects. The TMBF offers low variable-rate lines of credit to Tennessee cities and counties.
Of the city’s $201,106,937 in outstanding variable-rate debt, Lyons would like to refinance $72.5 million to fixed rate. He also proposed refinancing $43.8 million in water and sewer debt and $1.73 million debt from the electric department.
“We can know make sure we know where we’re going to be,” Councilman Shane McFarland said, adding diversifying the debt will help the council budget in the long run.
Lyons said the main reasons for refinancing the debt are a downgrade in one of the debt holder’s long-term credit rating and the inherently risky nature of variable-rate bonds.
Both Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s downgraded SunTrust debt rating in April. The downgrade made the variable rate jumped to 3.25 percent, required monthly payments and the $25.89 million must be paid off in five years.
Also the current economic climate has added instability to the variable-rate credit market.
The city council also unanimously approved installing additional security measures, after vandals defaced tombstones in Evergreen Cemetery on Greenland Drive last week
“We all regret what happened and hopefully we can prevent that … down the road,” Vice Mayor Chris Bratcher said.
Evergreen Cemetery Chairman Jim Roberts requested the installation of security lighting to deter future vandals from damaging the historic city cemetery.
City Manager Rob Lyons agreed and proposed using funds set aside to repave the pathways and remove dangerous trees from the graveyard this fall and winter.
“We think we need to add some additional security out there,” Lyons said.
The lights are expected to cost around $63,000.
The city also unanimously approved awarding a contract to build the new visitors center to Southland Constuctors of Brentwood.
The center cost an estimated $5.1 million, paid for in part by a $3.3 million Tennessee Department of Transportation grant to the city and a $2 million grant for the Chamber portion.
Lyons said it should be built in 14 months.
Other council business:
• Approved on second reading an ordinance to amend an area of Winslow Park at Berkshire Subdivision zoned PRD located along Blackman Road.
• Approved on second reading an ordinance to rezone an area located along Medical Center Parkway to Highway Commercial (CH) District.
• Approved on second reading an ordinance to amend the zoning code, pertaining to parking, queuing, and loading.
• Approved on second reading an ordinance to annex an area located along West Thompson Lane.