Knoxville's mayor promised no property tax increase in her 2013-14 budget proposal, along with some significant improvements to city properties.
Mayor Madeline Rogero presented her budget Friday morning at Ijams Nature Center. You can see the entire budget here.
The net proposed City budget is $295.8 million, with the General Fund making up about $183.2 million. That amounts to a 1.45% increase in the General Fund from the adopted 2012-13 budget.
"This budget is not ultimately about finances. It's really about a vision for our city - how we will grow, what services we will provide, and what quality of life we all will enjoy," Mayor Rogero said during her address at Ijams Nature Center. "The budget that I have presented today is balanced and affordable. It meets basic needs, and it positions us for greater opportunities."
The mayor proposed spending $15 million on a new Public Works complex to replace the aging facilities on Loraine Street; $10 million for improvements at the Knoxville Zoo; $5.2 million for demolition and improvements on property the state is conveying to the City at Lakeshore Park; and $1.2 million to redress chronic flooding problems on Prosser Road.
To fund those projects, the city will take on $31.4 million in new debt. According to a press release, this is the first major City capital debt issue since 2004.
Employee salaries, benefits and health care make up about 70% percent of
the General Fund budget. Rogero is proposing a a 2.5% salary increase for
all City employees, which total 1,598 full-time positions and 33 part-time positions.
Other highlights in the proposed budget include:
$5.45 million for the City's annual street paving program
- $1.8 million for sidewalks and crosswalks, including $550,000 for new sidewalk construction (an increase of $150,000)
- $500,000 matching grant for an Advanced Traffic Management System, which lays the groundwork for better signal timing and traffic flow
- $600,000 in anti-blight funds to address chronic problem properties, acquire blighted properties and enforce the Demolition by Neglect ordinance
- $800,000 for KCDC's continued redevelopment of the Walter P. Taylor Homes/Five Points area. The City has committed $8 million to that area over 10 years
- $170,000 toward a regional public-private partnership to attract low-fare air service to McGhee Tyson Airport
- $100,000 to expand Community Schools in center city neighborhoods, in collaboration with the Great Schools Partnership and Knox County Schools
- $100,000 for the Downtown Improvements fund (an increase of $50,000), along with $300,000 for the Magnolia Warehouse Redevelopment area and $100,000 for projects in the Downtown North corridor
- $60,000 toward bicycle infrastructure improvements
- $1.5 million for an Automatic Vehicle Location system to increase efficiency of the City vehicle fleet
- An alternative transportation coordinator in the Engineering Department, with expertise in engineering for pedestrians, cyclists and mass transit
- A small-business coordinator in the Purchasing Department, to implement the City's new small-business program
The proposed budget has to be approved by City Council. They will hold hearings on the proposal on May 21st and 22nd, at 8:30 a.m. in the Main Assembly Room of the City County Building.