The Murfreesboro City Council is working toward finalizing its plans for the management of the $300 million dollar community investment piece gained with the sale of the Murfreesboro Electric Department.
Last Wednesday the council discussed managing the funds using both a board of trustees and a charitable board.
The board of trustees would be made up of five individuals, each of whom would be selected by a member of the city council. Candidates with financial or legal backgrounds were recommended for consideration. The charitable board would be made up of seven members who will be appointed in a similar fashion.
Councilman Kirt Wade requested that stipulations be put into place for the number of charitable contributions being made to local nonprofits.
The trustees will oversee the distribution of the money. The board will have 4% percent of the city’s assets earned in the previous year to distribute.
An additional 1% would be used to cover administrative costs, legal fees, filing tax returns and cutting checks, according to Councilman Rick LaLance.
Eighty-five percent of the assets will be used for city improvement projects. The remaining 15% would be used to support local nonprofits. The 85-15 split was previously set at 90-10.
The charitable board will also manage the scholarship fund that will be open to Murfreesboro high school students applying to accredited higher education institutions in the city. Previously, it was suggested the scholarship fund would be limited to Murfreesboro students applying to Middle Tennessee State University.
Specifics of the scholarship are proposed to be set by the charitable board.
Five scholarships will be doled out annually with each recipient receiving $2,000 for each year of their educational career for up to four years.
The council also discussed traffic and infrastructure improvements and the possibility of using a portion of money from the general fund contribution to build a park on the west side of Murfreesboro.
The four improvement projects that were recommended include a Rutherford Boulevard extension and bridge over Interstate 24, Memorial Boulevard from the VA to Cherry Lane, Lascassas Highway to the east of Dejarnette Lane and the Old Fort Parkway widening.
LaLance’s proposal includes a 2-to-1 state match as opposed to the typical 4-to-1 in hopes of creating an incentive that would allow the city to take on more projects each year. The bridge project will not receive matching funds from the state as it does not directly connect to an interchange, according to Executive Director of Public Infrastructure Chris Griffith. He said this factor would speed up the project.
Councilman Shawn Wright said he would be more favorable to using the money on infrastructure. He proposed a lower 92-9 split for the board of trustees and charitable board to be used for that purpose.
“I get a lot more calls and see a lot more people complaining about traffic than I do, necessarily, the west side park,” said Wright.
Councilman Ronnie Martin said he believes the park will be a more memorable contribution to the residents than some of the proposed traffic improvements.
City Mayor Shane McFarland agreed with Martin, saying that he’s “not ever going to go against traffic and infrastructure,” but that the recreational space may be a more “tangible” benefit for the community.
“It’s like asking your kids to eat vegetables and then telling them it’s going to be better for them when they turn 20, and they’re only 9. They just don’t understand that benefit right now,” said McFarland referring to the longer-term road projects.
Vice Mayor Madelyn Scales Harris was not in attendance.