The Murfreesboro City Council will meet next Thursday to discuss a proposal to spend $500,000 in legal fees to study the possibility of selling Murfreesboro Electric Department to Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corp., Councilmember Ronnie Martin said.
Martin made the statement when approached by the Murfreesboro Post on Thursday, Sept. 26.
“I find it to be an unusual sequence of events,” Martin said. “To be discussing a budget amendment of that size without a formal vote by council to sell our local utility seems backwards.”
The possibility of a sale first came up in May 2015 but never happened.
The council will hold an executive session at 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 3 to discuss legal issues that could come up if MED were to merge with MTEMC, Martin said. Governing bodies are typically open to the public, but state law allows them to meet privately in executive session when they discuss lawsuits or some other legal matters with their attorneys. The 5 p.m. meeting will be closed to the public.
Whenever the executive session ends, possibly around 6 p.m., the council plans to hold a joint meeting with MED’s board of directors, or Power Board, to discuss making a budget amendment to transfer money from a line item in MED’s budget to fund the legal fees, Martin said. That meeting will be open to the public.
MTEMC officials were not immediately available for comment.
During an Aug. 28 meeting, the MED board discussed the budget amendment but deferred the matter because directors wanted more information, according to their minutes. The matter came up again at Wednesday’s board meeting, when City Manager Craig Tindall said it could be removed from the agenda because the joint meeting would discuss it, Martin said.
More specifically, the board’s Aug. 28 minutes say the budget amendment would be for legal, accounting and financial advice and guidance related to future transactions involving MED. The $500,000 would come from a $2 million contingency for storms and unanticipated growth to administrative and general services. The board believes such a change must be approved by the council, the minutes state.