Haslam Reveals Proposed Knoxville Budget

By: Gordon Boyd
By: Gordon Boyd

Knoxville (WVLT) - A bigger take from sales taxes could mean city workers, KAT, police, and fire all could get a little more out of Knoxville's next budget.

Volunteer TV's Gordon Boyd has your first look at a plan that plows little new ground, but promises more for what's already underway.

There's not going to be a tax increase this year.

In a show and sell, both chart-y and chatty, Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam pitches a budget that doesn't come close to re-carving the pie.

But, grows it to $163 million dollars, five percent larger than current year.

"It's kind of a boring budget in a way because it's doing what we said would be doing," Mayor Haslam says.

Meaning cadet classes will fill openings in police and fire, but no new slots.

Firefighters could see some new equipment on top of a pay raise.

Police spending would rise a little more again, most of it for pay.

Three and a half percent raise for all city employees, 0.75% more than mandated.

"Point seven five percent will not cover the insurance premium increase anticipated," says Stan McCroskey from the Fraternal Order of Police.

The Fraternal Order of Police proposed making up the difference cutting into Knoxville's $30 million reserve fund.

"We're not going to dip into the rainy day fund," Haslam says. "We think it's important to keep that for the city's credit rating, and for when things aren't going so well."

"It's not over, we will lobby council members," McCroskey says.

Projects spending could be less testy.

Four and a half million dollars for repaving, $2 million for sidewalks. Roughly another million each for flood control, and clearing blighted properties.

What could be the biggest splash? Ten million dollars for the South Knoxville waterfront, improvements to aid private development. Development the Mayor says could be worth a billion
dollars over the next ten years, or twenty.

Either way, "I think that's a great value, but that's our job," Haslam says.

"We'll sit down in our legislative process, as we always do, to see if we've got some suggestions. But we're on the same page with what this budget's trying to do here in Knoxville," says Vice Mayor Mark Brown, 6th District Council Member.

First reading is a week from this coming Tuesday. Council votes on it two weeks after that, with workshops in between.

When can citizens put in their two cents worth?

The hearing is Friday, May 16th.

Bring your calculator.


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