Thursday's meeting of the Murfreesboro City Council was a rather brief affair, with only a recommendation from retiring Water & Sewer Department Director Joe Kirchner drawing any discussion from council members.
The meeting began with City Judge Ewing Sellers swearing in returning Councilmen Toby Gilley and Ron Washington, and new Councilman Eddie Smotherman.
Mayor Tommy Bragg welcomed Smotherman to the council and quickly called for nominations to fill the seat of Vice Mayor, which was left vacant by the defeat of Councilman Chris Bratcher in the recent April municipal election.
Councilwoman Madelyn Scales-Harris nominated Councilman Ron Washington for the position, and Washington was elected by unanimous vote.
As vice mayor, Washington will now preside during Bragg's absence.
A resolution by Kirchner calling for rate increases to cover costs of sewer and water infrastructure upgrades should they be necessary brought questions from Smotherman.
"Are we required to follow these rate projections once this resolution passes, or can we eliminate these rate hikes if overall revenue rebounds in the coming years?" he asked.
Kirchner said the resolution should not be viewed as a rate hike, per say, "as a recent Daily News Journal article suggests," but is simply a contingency plan required by the state to participate in its revolving loan program.
"We must show the state that we have a 5-year contingency plan in place in order to participate in this largely interest-free loan program." he said.
He went on to explain that only a small portion of the $37 million will be financed with an unsubsidized state loan, and that interest on the rest of the load will be subsidized by the state as well.
The money will go to improvements such as a new pumping station and a screening facility near Sinking Creek.
"How long can we expect such equipment to last?" asked Mayor Bragg.
"Approximately 15 to 20 years is the life expectancy of much of the equipment, but we have sewer lines throughout the city approaching 100 years of age which we are continuing to replace whenever road improvements are required in those areas," Kirchner said.
"Thank you for boiling this down to where I can understand it," Smotherman said.
The resolution then passed unanimously.
Also passing with unanimous approval:
• Second reading of an ordinance to rezone 93.67 acres along Kimbro Road from Planned Unit Development District to Residential Single Family Eight District and Residential Multi-Family-16 District by applicant Wilson Bank and Trust
• Second reading of an ordinance to rezone 86.35 acres along Warrior Drive from Planned Commercial Development District to Single Family Residential Fifteen District and Highway Commercial District by applicant Wendell Atkinson
• Second reading of an ordinance to rezone 5.3 acres along South Church Street from Planned Commercial Development District to Commercial Fringe District by applicant Ken Knuckles