The Murfreesboro City Council approved a $50 million Community Investment Program plan that would allocate 70% to major roadway improvement projects at last week.
Budget Director Erin Tucker presented the program’s 2022 budget to the council. The majority of the money — $35 million — would go to roadway projects which is then followed by facilities at 9%, recreation at 7%, solid waste at 7%, public safety at 4%, airport at 2% and an “other” category at 1%.
Schools are also included in the CIP with approximately $14 million requested for projects. Tucker said 30% of that money is being requested through future CIP bonds and remaining project funds will come from county-shared bonds.
Two of the most expensive roadway improvements are the $27 million Rutherford Boulevard extension and the $15 million project to rebuild Rucker Lane from Highway 96 to Veterans Parkway.
The extension would connect Rutherford Boulevard with Warrior Drive with a bridge over Interstate 24. The project requests nearly $6.5 million from the FY22 CIP budget with future borrowings to come from the next few CIPs.
The Rucker rebuild will include a three-lane roadway with a curb, gutter and sidewalks. The project is requesting about $7 million from the CIP. Tucker said the city has previously borrowed just over $6 million for the project and that an additional $2.3 million has been programmed into the next CIP.
The recreation category will receive $3.63 million for local park projects. A $3 million West Park and a $860,000 skatepark to be covered with dollars from the general fund were also included under this category.
The city has also indicated plans to improve the municipal airport with taxiway and hangar construction, including a nine-unit T-hangar building for lease.
Councilman Rick LaLance also presented an update on the Murfreesboro Electric Department Community Investment Study Group’s ideas for the $300 million the city has gained from the sale. The members of the council and city staff were the first group to view his drafted spreadsheet that was put together “for illustrative purposes only.”
Vice Mayor Madelyn Scales Harris and Councilman Ronnie Martin were not in attendance.
One of the categories the committee has considered investing in is an endowed scholarship for Murfreesboro high schoolers with plans to attend Middle Tennessee State University. The scholarship would be offered to five high school seniors each year. Each recipient would receive $2,000 for each year of their college career for up to four years.
“What I kind of had in my brain when I decided to plug this in here was that this would be called the Murfreesboro Electric Department Foundation,” said LaLance. “It would create a little bit of legacy that would be here forever and ever in our local community that would keep the name Murfreesboro Electric around for a long, long time.”
Another portion of the money could be devoted to traffic infrastructure improvement projects around the city. LaLance’s spreadsheet dedicated $25 million to local projects and $15 million to state projects over the next few years.
LaLance factored in an assumed 4% rate of return to operate in a similar fashion to the MED Pension Committee, which works on an assumed 7% rate of return.
Ninety percent of the money coming into the trust would go to the general fund. The remaining 10% would go toward non-governmental strategic partners.
Mayor Shane McFarland said he feels LaLance’s plan meets the four goals the city had in mind for the money, which include protecting the asset, benefiting the taxpayers, benefiting the community and improving infrastructure.
LaLance is scheduled to meet with the other committee members at the end of the month before the council meets on Wednesday, Oct. 13 at 10 a.m. to further discuss the plan and make decisions related to the potential formation of one or multiple committees to oversee the general fund, outside agency funds and the investment piece.
McFarland said he’s in favor of having the outside agencies managed by a separate committee to take these decisions out of local politics.
“I mean quite honestly, I feel very uncomfortable every year when we vote on outside agencies because it’s really hard for a council member, for us, to pick one agency and say, ‘Look, we want to raise this amount,’ when there’s 20 other agencies that need the same help,” said McFarland.
City Attorney Adam Tucker said some of the plans discussed may require an amendment to the city’s charter to consider the future councils who would be in charge of the money down the road.
The council would like to submit to the General Session for approval as soon as possible before the end of this year.