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Special election or council appointment?

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JUSTIN STOKES / The Murfreesboro Post

A special session was called Thursday night to address the vacancy left by the passing of Vice Mayor Doug Young. One attendee requested the council allow for a vote amongst the people, calling it both the "moral and legal" thing to do. Another citizen spoke to the "prioritization of qualifications" of his replacement.

Ceremonial items

The meeting opened with a proposed resolution to honor Young for his decades of service to the city.

"Doug was one of the most absolutely selfless people you could ever meet," said Mayor Shane McFarland. He introduced a resolution to honor the vice mayor by naming the new training facility Doug Young Police and Fire Training Facility.

The resolution passed. Afterward, some council members shared memories of the late councilman, and a firefighter's helmet was left at his seat in his honor.

Vacant seat

City Attorney Craig Tindall drafted a letter to address the current council vacancy, a revised memorandum that would potentially allow for a replacement to serve until 2018.

McFarland laid out the three available options to address the vacancy: simply leaving the seat open until the next election in 2018, the council appointing someone to the seat, or a special election allowing voters to choose.

The council discussed the options, with questions of legality analyzed through the understood language of the city council charter. The minimum estimated cost of an election is $61,000. The prospective council member would have to run a campaign for the special election, and then again if they wished to keep the seat in 2018.

How the council decides to handle this vacancy could establish protocol for any future events that leave a vacancy in the council.

Per Councilman Eddie Smotherman, the council will discuss the ordinance at the next meeting. If approved, the council would send the amendment to the state legislature to approve the amended charter. It's currently undecided, and in the council has asked for a recommendation for what to send to the city attorney.

Communication

Also on the agenda were recommendations from Chief of Police Karl Durr and Fire Rescue Chief Mark Foulks to purchase a 700 MHz tower site, infrastructure, consoles and accessories through Motorola and to adopt a resolution expressing official intent that certain expenses are to be incurred by the city. Old radio equipment being replaced is to be "passed down" to other services.

The total amount requested for the item was $13.5 million, higher than the previously proposed $11.5 million a few years ago. Councilman Rick Lalance questioned the extra $2.5 million, wanting to make sure that "due diligence" was offered to the budget and expressed concerns over "simply borrowing more money." Issues regarding the budget discrepancies were addressed, and the new budget included necessary items needed to address recent growth in Murfreesboro.

Durr told The Post such items would enhance radio communications for emergency services personnel, and that support of this communications measure was critical. He also cited parts of Murfreesboro as being "bad for communication," and these spots could pose a public safety risk as the city grows. He added that the lead time needed would allow for the installation of radio equipment for the new police headquarters. The recommendation was met with approval.

Justin Stokes may be contacted at blacmarketpress@gmail.com.

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CITY COUNCIL, MURFREESBORO, MURFREESBORO FIRE AND RESCUE, MURFREESBORO POLICE DEPARTMENT
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