Mayoral Moment in Murfreesboro
The mayors of Rutherford County and the cities of Murfreesboro and Eagleville drew a full house at the Republican Party headquarters downtown Murfreesboro Tuesday night, August 8, 2017. More than 70 people came out to hear the Mayors talk about running the municipalities, and to find out where the tax money go, and what the future plans and challenges are.
“We are very pleased with the interest in our event,” said Rutherford County GOP Chairman, Donna Barrett.
“This is a new series we hope to have in the future, where people get to meet the elected officials and ask them questions and engage in a dialogue. It is like an old fashion town hall,” she said.
County Mayor Ernest Burgess gave an accounting of Rutherford County’s budget, allocation and needs. Despite a rapid growth in the past decade, the county’s financial status and credit rating remains good, but the growth does cost money, he added, and pointed to the need for new schools, fire stations, trash collection and roads. But, he added, the reason so many people move in to our county is because of what it has to offer, both in terms of services and jobs.
Murfreesboro City Mayor, Shane McFarland, who moved to town in the early 1990s when the population was around 40,000 people, pointed out the importance of long term planning in order to be able to handle the growth and provide needed services. While having a budget significantly smaller than the county as a whole, both the city and the county try to borrow as little money as possible in and pay it off as fast as possible in order to run a healthy balance sheet. McFarland said that they try to build for the future so that projects such as fire stations will not only last a life time, but will be located where they can be of service generations from now.
While the city of Eagleville dwarfs compared to the county and the city of Murfreesboro, Mayor Travis Brown said they were facing similar challenges as the rest of the county. But they have far less resources at their disposal.
“There have been times when I myself had to go out and spread salt on icy roads, something my fellow Mayors in the county and Murfreesboro probably haven’t had to do,” he said with a smile.
Small towns like Eagleville have another challenge the larger municipalities do not have, and that is the economy of scale. It may cost many times more to put asphalt on a mile of road in Eagleville compared to a city like Murfreesboro, because Eagleville is quoted for one mile, while larger entities get a discount for many miles of roads. On top of that, Eagleville services the surrounding unincorporated areas around town, even though they don’t pay the city taxes and bear the burden. But when there is a fire or emergency, the closest rescuers get there first.
All three mayors emphasized the first responders in the county, who now help each other as needed, providing a safer place to live, whether in the city or the county.