Burchett's budget greeted by widespread support

6:49 PM, May 1, 2013   |    comments
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Audience waits for Knox Co. Mayor Burchett to propose his budget. 5/1/30

Mayor Tim Burchett laid out a "lean" budget proposal Wednesday that promised to maintain county services and raise pay for employees without raising property taxes.

His brief speech-made slightly longer by continuous interjections of applause from the audience-laid out a budget totaling approximately $734 million.

That's an increase of $22.3 million from the current total budget.

The vast majority of that money would go toward fully funding the Knox County Board of Education's budget request for nearly $420 million.

What could be most noteworthy about the budget process this year is the different tone from last year when the mayor and Knox County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre were at odds over additional school funding.

At the end of Wednesdays address they were joking with one another in front of the cameras.

"See? He likes me this year," joked Burchett.

The mayor's budget would include funding for the school district's nearly $14 million capital plan.

That includes new school security measures such as a video camera system and school access control.

"Clearly what we're after, what I'm after, and what the superintendent of the school system is after, is a better school system and a more highly-educated child," Burchett said of the KCS portion of his budget. "We've just come to an agreement this year."

Also on the mayor's capital plan is funding for the Karns Connector road project, the Karns Senior Center, and a million dollars toward a safety center.

There is also $1 million for new cruisers for the Knox County Sheriff's Office.

The Halls Crossroads area will also see improvements, thank to this budget. The mayor has set aside funds to complete designs for realigning Maynardville Pike.

He says he expects construction to start by next July. The construction will be paid for with $11 million from the state.

Commissioner R. Larry Smith represents that portion of the county and he says he's hopeful improving the traffic flow will encourage business.

"Restaurants are looking right now. They're out here looking. They see what's on the plans for the future and they're looking to build out here," said Smith.

Of course, the county commission has to approve the budget first and can make changes.

But so far Burchett's plan seems to enjoy widespread support.

"What's there not to like? There's no tax increase, we're reducing the debt," said Commissioner Richard Briggs.

"It all appears to be in there, what's needed to make Knox County continue to grow and thrive," agreed Commissioner Dave Wright.

Commissioner Sam McKenzie also said the budget seemed to be something he could support.

He says it looks like a good budget for an economy coming out of a recession, and a promising way to continue moving the county forward.

If approved by county commission, the budget would take effect with the beginning of the next fiscal year on July 1st.


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