The annexation issue isn’t even on the radar, our representatives at the capital told city officials and council members Thursday night.
Dining on deli cuisine in the council chambers*, city officials met with State Sens. Bill Ketron and Jim Tracy as well as state Reps. Dawn White and Bryan Terry.
The informal meeting offered city council members a chance to tell the lawmakers what their priorities are and for the lawmakers to tell local officials what legislation looms in the capital.
It was also the council’s first chance to hear from J. Russell Farrar, whose lobbying firm — Farrar and Bates of Nashville — has been hired to represent Murfreesboro before the state legislature. The city will pay the firm $3,333.33 a month from February through the end of the year.
Changes to ban on forced annexations?
Vice Mayor Doug Young asked Farrar if there is any legislation pending to “tweak” the current law that bans forced annexations.
Farrar said he didn’t see any measure on the horizon that would “tweak” the current law, but added that there have been a couple of bills on de-annexation. He said Rep. Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah, the prime mover behind the forced annexation ban, has turned his attention to regulating homeowners associations.
“I see why he is doing it (anti-annexation stance),” said councilman Eddie Smotherman of Carter, “but I am surprised that anyone is following him.
“It is amazing how he has been able to strong arm issues through,” Farrar replied.
Everyone hopes law will be clarified
Farrar added that no one has explained exactly how a referendum on annexation would work. For example, does a developer in an area up for annexation get one vote or 100 votes for each of the 100 lots in a tract he owns in the area?
Smotherman said he is not so much interested in annexing more residences because there is not that much revenue involved to make it worth it. What does concern him is the problem that exists when private property owners, unwilling to be annexed, lie between Murfreesboro and commercial property that city hopes to develop.
Drugs and human trafficking
Smotherman also said the heroine problem and human trafficking are two issues that concern him. He added that most residents have no idea how big the two problems have become here.
Mayor Shane McFarland said roads are the big issue here, as they are everywhere else. He noted that every part of the community needs help improving roads but cited State Route 99, Thompson Lane and Cherry Lane as among those most in need of improvements.
Gas tax hike is dead on arrival
Everyone agreed that the attempt to raise the state portion of the gas tax, which has been at 21.4 cents a gallon since 1989, is now dead.
Farrar said his firm tracks every bill that is introduced in the legislature, and promised to provide weekly reports to the city on items coming up that could impact Murfreesboro. In addition, he and City Manager Rob Lyons plan to sit down in late summer or early fall and draw up a list of things they want to push at the capital.
- In my poor French, Chez Mairie is a high falootin’ way of saying the “city hall restaurant”. In inroducing Farrar, Lyons said he and Farrar have talked so much that Farrar is beginning to pick up parts of Lyons’ New Jersey accent. After listening to Farrar, I can only conclude that Lyons is from southern New Jersey.