• Share on Facebook
  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Google+
  • Share via Email
Budget Header


Transcript of Mayor Madeline Rogero's State of the City Address

Proposed Budget for City of Knoxville's Fiscal Year 2018-2019

April 27, 2018
Mary Costa Plaza at Knoxville Civic Auditorium & Coliseum


Mayor Rogero presents State of City Address

View Photo Gallery on Facebook

Watch Video by Community Television of Knoxville

Thank you, Vice Mayor Saunders. It is a joy to work with you as Vice Mayor for City Council. Councilwoman McKenzie, thank you for welcoming us to District 6.

Good afternoon! Thank you all for being here. This is always a special day in the life of our City when we come together to reflect on where we’ve been, where we are, and where we want to go. 

I want to recognize those who have made this day special for us:

Bishop Brian Cole is the newly elected Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee. Bishop, I am honored that you gave the Invocation today and hope that you come to love this city as much as we all do. Welcome to Knoxville. 

Thank you to the Honor Guard of the Knoxville Police Department for the presentation of the colors, and to the Knoxville Fire Department for so proudly displaying their gigantic U.S. flag. We are reminded of the great service and sacrifice of all our uniformed officers as they protect us every day.  

Thank you to the Green Magnet School students with Principal Jessica Holman for leading us in the Pledge. I always like to invite students to join us at this annual event. They remind us to whom we are ultimately accountable – our children and future generations. 

Thank you to Brooklynn Johnson, a junior at West High School, for singing the National Anthem. Wasn’t she fabulous? She’s pretty gutsy to sing a cappella in front of such a large crowd!  

As always, R.B. Morris brings us inspiration and cause for reflection. This is R.B.’s second year as Poet Laureate, which means it’s also his last. We will be naming a successor this summer.

R.B., as our first Poet Laureate, you have set a high bar for the position -- not only in your own writing, but in your work with the community, especially with our young people and budding poets. 

Isaiah Whaley, your poem “What is this place?” truly captures the diversity and complexity of downtown Knoxville. Congratulations on being selected to share your poetry today.  

Isn’t it exciting for Knoxville’s future that this next generation is already finding their voice?

I want to recognize my family members who are here today. Gene and I have a blended family of five grown children and seven grandchildren. So I’m pleased that two of our daughters are here, Carmen and Joan, and two of our granddaughters, Jada and Maylah. Thank you all for your love and support.

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett couldn’t be here, but I am glad to see Kelly Burchett at my table.  

Also joining us is Bob Booker. Now, Bob is an Army veteran, Knoxville College graduate, civil rights pioneer, and the first Black state representative elected in Knoxville. He was a mayoral aide, the executive director of Beck Cultural Exchange Center, and a Knoxville City Councilman. He is a well-respected author and newspaper columnist on Knoxville’s black history. And in retirement, he is developing an even broader fan base for his impressive karaoke singing!  It is an honor to have you here, Bob. 

Vice Mayor Saunders has already recognized the elected officials. Thank you all for being here today and for your public service.  


THE STATE OF OUR CITY

The Mary Costa Plaza, where we are today, was named for a wonderfully talented woman born in Knoxville. Mary Costa performed in operas on stages around the world. 

But she may be best known for providing the voice of Princess Aurora in Disney’s 1959 film Sleeping Beauty. 

Perhaps one of the many reasons we love Mary Costa is that Knoxville can relate to Sleeping Beauty. We weren’t cursed, but we were kind of sleepy there for a while. 

Well, we aren’t sleepy anymore!

Knoxville is alive and kicking in 2018. We have a lot of energy and momentum. The state of our city is vibrant and optimistic. 

You can see it 
in the crowds on Market Square during a jazz show or a farmers’ market; 
in the teams of kids running and playing at Sansom Sports Complex on fields that used to be warehouses over on 17th Street; 
in the amazing research being done by students and faculty at the University of Tennessee; 
in the opening of new corporate headquarters downtown like Tombras and Regal, two of our creative industry leaders.

You can see it in buildings that have sat vacant for decades, now coming back to life, like the Farragut Hotel on Gay Street; the old Knoxville High School on Fifth Avenue, now beautiful independent living apartments for seniors; and, soon, the restored Kern’s Bakery on Chapman Highway. 

You can see it in the construction cranes that soar over our downtown skyline and the orange cones (lots of them) that redirect traffic on our streets due to construction. I’ve proclaimed the orange cone to be our new city flower!

You can see it with our City Council! From a strong field of candidates last year, voters elected our most diverse Council ever: Stephanie Welch, Andrew Roberto, Seema Singh-Perez, Lauren Rider, and Gwen McKenzie. That’s a record four women, including the first two women of color in our city’s history. 

They joined four experienced colleagues – Vice Mayor Saunders, Mark Campen, George Wallace, and Marshall Stair. Thank you all for your leadership. We’ve tackled a lot of issues these past 6-plus years and, as you will see in this proposed budget, I want to accomplish a lot more before our terms are up.

Challenges 

Of course, we also have serious challenges. There are real inequities in our city. There is persistent poverty, homelessness, and a need for more affordable housing and living wage jobs with benefits. 

We know that young men and boys of color are disproportionately affected by violence. And we are sadly reminded of that again as we mourn the loss of another young man, Mekhi Luster, who tragically lost his life this past week just a month before his high school graduation.

Mental health issues and substance abuse are affecting and destroying lives and families across all socio-economic sectors and zip codes. Our first responders administer naloxone to more than 3 overdose victims a day. Drug overdose deaths continue to rise, with some 266 deaths in Knox County last year.

We are addressing these challenges, with the cooperation of all levels of government as well as the private and nonprofit sectors. Our social, economic, and infrastructure investments are leveraged with private investments to fuel our economy, generate opportunity, and provide resources for the programs and assistance for those most in need.

Highlights of Past Year

Looking back over the past year, we have seen progress in areas across our city. And we continue to see blight turn to reinvestment, not just downtown but along the older commercial spines and older neighborhoods north, south, east and west.  

Let’s review for a moment some of the accomplishments and investments over the past year. 

Working with the Chamber of Commerce, Innovation Valley, and the Development Corporation, we’ve had numerous economic development announcements this year.

Here are just four examples:

SH Data Technologies is opening a state-of-the-art data storage center in the old Fort Hill building nearby on Summit Hill. SH Data will serve businesses with big data needs and will be a recruitment tool to attract more business investment.

Scapa Healthcare, a global supplier and manufacturer of adhesive-based products, announced the expansion its Knoxville operations.

With the purchase of Scripps Networks Interactive, Discovery Communications announced they will move their National Operations Headquarters to Knoxville. We are excited about the potential growth this could bring to our city, and we welcome Discovery to Knoxville. We are grateful to Ken Lowe and the Scripps team for their strong presence and leadership in our city, and their generous legacy of philanthropy.

Regal Entertainment Group moved some 350 employees into their new corporate headquarters on the south waterfront. It is great to have them downtown. Regal has since been acquired by Cineworld. The new owners announced that they plan to stay in Knoxville, and will continue to use the well-respected Regal name. We welcome the new owners, Mooky and Israel Greidinger, to Knoxville. And we are grateful to Regal’s former leadership, Amy Miles and Greg Dunn, and the Regal team for their strong presence and leadership in our city, and their generous legacy of philanthropy.

Here are some other big announcements and milestones reached:

The Lakeshore Park master plan continues to blossom thanks to generous private donors and city infrastructure investment. Phase 1A of the plan is now complete, which includes additional walking trails, Marble Hall and Marble Pavilion, picnic areas and shelter, new restrooms, a boardwalk and pier along the Tennessee River, and a new trail, fishing pier, and canoe and kayak launch  at Fourth Creek. Ken Lowe and Scripps Networks made a $3 million gift for a new scenic overlook that will have terraced gardens and a spectacular view of the park, the river, and the mountains. 

At Zoo Knoxville, the Boyd Family Asian Trek with its exciting Tiger Forest exhibit has expanded to include a very special habitat with multiple viewing levels for gibbons and langurs. If you haven’t yet seen them swinging over your head or looking you square in the eye, you better get over there soon. Zoo Knoxville is one of the most visited attractions in the state, and an award-winning leader in conservation and species survival.

About a mile from here, the Change Center is under construction and will open late summer to provide recreational, leadership, and job opportunities for young people. Over 9,300 people and organizations have made donations to the Change Center – ranging from $1 to $500,000. I want to recognize Change Center staff Nicole Chandler and Bruce Charles, and the Change Center board, co-chaired by Pastor Daryl Arnold and Police Chief David Rausch, for their outstanding work.

And in Lonsdale, we have great partners working on the new Emerald Youth neighborhood multipurpose complex. This nearly $10 million project, mostly private investment, will transform an entire block to a vibrant center for neighborhood kids. I want to recognize some special folks for their commitment to this project. 

    • Bill Sansom and his wife, Elizabeth, are here. Bill has done much for Knoxville and Tennessee as a business and civic leader. He has poured his personal and financial support into many worthy local causes, but I don’t think any are nearer to his and Elizabeth’s hearts than serving young people from challenging circumstances.  • Dee and Jimmy Haslam, the other major benefactors, were not able to be here today, but have been strong supporters of Emerald Youth for many years. Their gift is truly extraordinary, and it will allow Emerald Youth to do extraordinary things for kids like the ones here at the Emerald Youth table.   • Lonsdale residents were also strong advocates for this project, and more than 350 community stakeholders worked with Steve Diggs and his dynamic staff to make this project a reality for the kids of Lonsdale.    • Thanks to all of these folks and to everyone who supports Emerald Youth’s many programs. Knoxville is a better and more compassionate place because of your efforts and generosity.

From our young people to our seniors, Knoxville aims to be a city that is welcoming and supportive of people of all ages. That’s why we were pleased to be welcomed as a new member of the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities. Thanks to the staff, board, and volunteers of AARP who are with us today. This is a recognition of our city’s commitment to support policies, programs, and investments that make Knoxville accessible and affordable to people of all ages.

The Behavioral Health Urgent Care Center opened last month with city, county, and state support. This as an important jail diversion facility managed by Helen Ross McNabb Center that provides nonviolent offenders with the choice to tackle their mental-health or substance use disorders rather than go to jail.

The two-year Knoxville Energy Extreme Makeover (KEEM) program was completed this year. With a $15 million grant from TVA and managed by CAC, nearly 1,300 homes of low-income families received free energy-efficient retrofits that lowered their utility bills and made their homes more comfortable and affordable.

The Cumberland Avenue Streetscapes project was completed. This $25 million investment by the City and KUB created a safer, pedestrian-friendly, and attractive gateway to UT and downtown, and has already generated private investment of more than $190 million (and growing).

We completed the First Creek Greenway connection from Fulton High School to Edgewood Park, and are now working on the connection from Fulton down to Cecil Avenue.

The Fountain City Lake improvements are very close to completion. This was a particularly challenging and multi-phased project. (Please do your part to keep the ducks healthy and the lake free of algae by only feeding the ducks the appropriate food provided at the feed station.)

Finally, Recode Knoxville is underway – the first thorough review of Knoxville’s zoning ordinance in 50 years. The first draft of the proposed new ordinance has been released for your review and comments are welcome. Get more info online at recodeknoxville.com. With Recode Knoxville, we will adopt modern standards that support the development and redevelopment of Knoxville in a way that uses resources efficiently and builds a strong, sustainable, walkable City. So please stay involved. 

So as we approach this new budget year with a resolve to meet our challenges head on, we should also pause to celebrate and appreciate what we have accomplished.  People are engaged, collaborations are strong, private investments are growing, and there is an enthusiasm for what is possible. 


PROPOSED BUDGET FY 2018-19

The proposed net budget for 2018-19 is $376.9 million, which is a 6.51% increase from last year.  

Because we have been good stewards of your tax dollars, we have maintained the highest credit rating in the history of our city. We have a substantial fund balance and manageable debt, and we have the capacity to borrow more responsibly.  

When adjusted for inflation and countywide appraisals, Knoxville’s tax rate is actually lower than it was 10 years ago.  

And, I’m pleased to announce, it will remain that way. 

I am not proposing a property tax increase for next year.

Now, if that’s all you came to hear, that’s the answer. But stick around, because we have some big news coming up.

Knoxville Civic Auditorium and Coliseum

Let’s start with this facility where we are today. The Knoxville Civic Auditorium and Coliseum opened in 1961. I know many of you have lasting memories of great performances and exciting hockey games you’ve enjoyed here. 

I have my own story: Back in June 1966 when I was 14 years old, when my family was moving from Florida to Dayton, Ohio. We stayed overnight in Knoxville and discovered that the Beach Boys were in concert.  

My brother and sister and I were thrilled to be dropped off here at the Coliseum – and it was a great concert! Little did I know that 14 years later, I would become a Knoxvillian. (Or that 45 years later, I would be elected Mayor!)

But there is another kind of story for the families who once called this neighborhood home, before it was mostly obliterated by urban renewal almost 60 years ago. 

One of those neighbors was the poet Nikki Giovanni -- another great talent born in Knoxville, whose poem about Knoxville was read by R.B. today. 

Her other most famous writing about Knoxville is more conflicted. It’s called “400 Mulvaney Street,” which was the address of her grandparents’ house where she would visit in the summers.

It was just a few blocks from here; up the street we now call Hall of Fame Drive. Nikki writes about coming back to town after her grandmother’s death and looking for familiar people and landmarks and finding them all gone. A whole community was displaced.

That is part of our city’s history, and one that we shouldn’t forget or gloss over. Those of us who have the privilege to serve in public office should always remember that our decisions and actions have consequences that can resonate for generations – in good ways and in bad. 

We can’t change the past. But we can make sure that anything we do here today respects the needs of all people of our city. 

On a more positive note, Bob Booker recently shared this bit of history: when the Civic Auditorium and Coliseum was about to open in 1961, he called city hall to find out what segregation rules would apply. He was surprised and pleased to learn that this facility would open as a fully integrated public space – the first fully integrated public facility in the City. 

As you probably know, we recently studied the current condition of the Auditorium and Coliseum, which are now 57 years old, and we considered potential options for renovation and/or replacement. 

Under the management of SMG (who also manages the Convention Center and Chilhowee Park for us) and in partnership with Visit Knoxville, these two venues are seeing a significant increase in the number and variety of event bookings. 

I announced in February that we are not currently in a financial position to either completely renovate or replace this facility. The potential cost for the desired option could reach well above $150 million, and we have other pressing needs that must be addressed first. 

But to make sure these two venues remain viable until a future long-term decision is made, I am proposing $10 million in renovations that will include upgrades to seats, lighting, and the stage in the Auditorium and, most exciting for the Ice Bears and their fans, a rebuilt ice floor and other major upgrades in the Coliseum. 

Public Safety Building

I mentioned “other pressing needs” a moment ago. We have one of those just up the hill at our Safety Building, which houses the headquarters of the Knoxville Police Department as well as City Court

That building opened in 1969 – almost 50 years ago –- as the administrative headquarters of both the police department and the fire department. As the departments grew and needs changed, space became tighter and the Fire Department moved out. Their administrative offices are now housed in leased space on Hill Avenue.

Law enforcement has changed significantly in the past 50 years, and the Safety Building is simply not able to serve the needs of a modern police force. 

Police and Fire are our two largest departments, and they provide our most vital public safety services. I am proposing a new $40 million combined headquarters that will meet the modern and professional needs of both departments.

As we make this significant new investment in Public Safety and our uniformed officers, we want that investment to make a positive contribution to the surrounding community.

That’s why I’m excited to make the first of two major announcements today. 

Knoxville College

Last fall, my staff and I were approached by the Knoxville College Board of Trustees, seeking our support. 

As you know, Knoxville College is a storied institution, a Historically Black College that provided education and opportunity for generations of African-American students from Knoxville and across the nation.  

We have distinguished KC alumni with us here today. Please stand or raise your hand if you are a KC graduate.

But as you also know, Knoxville College has had its challenges and has struggled for years. KC lost its accreditation in the late 1990s, and the Board of Trustees made a very tough decision to suspend educational operations after its 2015 graduating class.  

The Board, alumni and stakeholders of KC have never given up on the hope of reinstituting an educational program, working toward re-earning accreditation and the revitalization of that beloved campus on the hill. 

They have made some strides recently, electing a new Board Chair, Dr. Michael Bowie, hiring interim president Dr. Keith Lindsey, and re-activating their THEC licensure as an institution of higher learning.

But they have been hampered by physical and financial obstacles -- an aging campus full of vacant buildings that are creating serious risks for the college and surrounding neighborhood, and accumulated debt that hinders property development and donor engagement. 

The college has always known they’ve had support from the City of Knoxville, and they asked for our assistance to help them work through a complete revitalization effort. 

The City accepted the call from a friend in need, and in working with them we have reached a Memorandum of Understanding establishing a public/private partnership. 

Before I go into more detail, I’d like to recognize KC representatives who are with us today. Please stand when I call your name:  Interim President Keith Lindsey; Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees Leonard Adams; Board members Jimmy King and Sam Wesley; Mayor Johnny Ford, a KC graduate, board member, and former Mayor of Tuskegee, Alabama; and Alumni Chapter President Lonnie Kincaid-Gallaher. 

So here is what the Knoxville College board and my administration are proposing:

The City would gain site control of a portion of the Knoxville College land and property, including the track and football field area to the rear of the campus. 

We would undertake the demolition of the dilapidated dormitory buildings within this footprint and redevelop the site to construct a new Public Safety Campus for our Fire and Police departments. 

The athletic field and immediate surrounding area would be available for Police and Fire training as well as community recreation, and would provide a home for KPD’s K-9 kennel.

Other portions of the adjacent footprint will be available for future community and economic growth opportunities, which could include affordable and workforce housing and mixed-use development.

The Knoxville College board will retain the existing historic buildings and the center quadrant of the campus, as they continue their efforts to re-establish educational programming there.

With our input, the KC Board has submitted a debt mitigation proposal to their creditors to address the College’s debt. We will continue to work closely with the Board of Trustees on that effort.   

Of course, all of this will need public review and the approval of City Council. Councilwoman McKenzie has been involved in these discussions with us. 

This is a big challenge and there are a lot of pieces to put together, but we all believe that we can make this work in a way that will serve the interests of Knoxville College, the Mechanicsville neighborhood, and our Public Safety departments. 

Science and Discovery Museum

With a new home secured for the Safety Building, the next question is what will happen to this large piece of property where the Safety Building currently sits.

We have always believed that if the Safety Building was relocated, it would be important for that land to continue to serve the community – both the neighborhoods around us here and the City as a whole.

So, here’s the other really exciting news. But first, I need to give a special recognition to one of our guests.

Jim Clayton doesn’t really need an introduction. Jim and his family founded a long list of well-known organizations which includes Clayton Homes, the Clayton Banks, and the Clayton Foundation, which have positively impacted our region for 62 years – and continue to do so.  

Jim and his family provide thousands of jobs each year, while contributing millions to philanthropic organizations -- including the Knoxville Museum of Art, the Clayton Center for the Arts in Maryville, The Clayton Performing Art Center at Pellissippi State, and the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra – as well as numerous other non-profits.  

I am excited to announce that the City has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Mr. Clayton and his team – pending public review and Council approval – to build a Science and Discovery Museum – right here on Hill Avenue.

The City will contribute the property and some infrastructure work, but this estimated $150 million project is fully funded – and endowed – by the Clayton Family. 

The creation of a new discovery center has been a long-held dream for several Knoxville groups.  

Mr. Clayton became involved several years ago and helped fund an extensive study. Over the last several quarters, he and Michell attended conferences and toured the top 20 museums in the U.S. – plus three in Europe.

I am thrilled for our City to have the opportunity to partner in this effort, which will serve all East Tennesseans – of all ages, including toddlers, pre-school children, K through 12’s, young adults, families, and seniors – for generations to come. 

The exhibits will feature all components of science and technology – beginning with dinosaurs, Revolutionary War era toys, tools, and weapons – all the way to modern day 3-D Printing, facial recognition, and robotics. Two large wings of the huge building will be reserved for world class travelling exhibits.   

Again, there are still details and approvals to be worked out, but we are committed to making this happen – and I know Mr. Clayton and his family are too.

A new Public Safety complex at Knoxville College and the Science and Discovery Museum are two big-picture, big-thinking projects. We have great partners, the Knoxville College Board and Mr. Clayton, who are willing to think big and push forward.

I’m also fortunate to have my two deputies to the mayor, David Brace and Bill Lyons, who have both been instrumental in bringing these pieces together. 

David, in particular, has spent months poring over possible site plans and working through legal and logistical challenges with Mr. Clayton and Knoxville College.  Thank you, David and Bill.

So those are our biggest announcements, but we’re not finished yet. 

There are many more initiatives in this proposed budget.  I will highlight a few more of them: 

The Urban Wilderness

We will continue to invest in the Urban Wilderness, which is transforming South Knoxville into an outdoor recreation destination for Knoxvillians and visitors alike. This is a multi-pronged strategy with economic, environmental, recreational, health, quality of life, and tourism benefits. 

The Urban Wilderness vision is planned and implemented by a broad coalition, including these major partners: the Appalachian Mountain Bike Club, the Aslan Foundation, Ijams Nature Center, Knox County, Legacy Parks Foundation, and the City. 

The Urban Wilderness is more than a thousand acres of beautiful parks, overlooks, trails, quarries, civil war sites, playgrounds, and nature areas. However, when tourists, and even some locals, want to enjoy the Urban Wilderness, they often don’t know where to go to get there.

I am recommending a $10 million investment to create a true gateway entrance to the Urban Wilderness at the end of the James White Parkway – which will remain the end of James White Parkway.

This grand entrance is in the early phases of design but will include amenities such as a landscaped access point to the Urban Wilderness at Baker Creek Preserve, parking, pedestrian pathways and trails, a large bike park, additional children’s nature play areas, improved connectivity to existing neighborhoods and the planned BMX facility at South Doyle Middle School, and other improvements.

This project is possible because of the support of Governor Haslam and the Tennessee Department of Transportation, who are deeding state property to us for public use.

The design process will include significant public review, and we look forward to working with the community on this exciting project that we know is already driving new investment at Baker Creek Bottoms and along commercial corridors in South Knoxville.

There will be a public meeting on June 2 to seek public feedback on the initial plans for the Urban Wilderness gateway. 

Gateway Park at Chapman

Speaking of gateways, Chapman Highway has long been a challenged artery. However, it is seeing new energy with the transformation of the South Waterfront. I am recommending $2 million for a new gateway park on the west side of the bridge at Blount Avenue. As envisioned in the original South Waterfront plan, this park will create an attractive entrance to South Knoxville and encourage retail and commercial development along the corridor.

Sidewalks

Sidewalks are a crucial part of our transportation infrastructure and our emphasis on walkability and sustainability. Last year we quadrupled our budget for new sidewalk construction to meet the demand. We will continue to fund at that same level for a total of $2.95 million dollars. In addition, there is $1 million dollars for ADA curb cuts and sidewalk repairs.

Cumberland Avenue

On Cumberland Avenue, we will extend the corridor’s new lighting and intersection designs from campus to Henley Street, in a 50/50 partnership with The University of Tennessee. This reflects our excellent working relationship with UT, which has continued under the new Chancellor. Thank you, Chancellor Davenport. 

Affordable Housing 

Last year, in response to a growing need, we budgeted $2 million for an affordable rental development fund to encourage the development of more affordable rental housing. 

This past year, using this fund along with our federal funds, we invested close to $1.4 million that helped private and nonprofit developers leverage $33.6 million in other public and private funding. That’s a 24 to 1 return on our investment, resulting in 206 new units of affordable housing. Not bad. 

To build on that success and meet demand, I am recommending that we increase the funding next year to $2.5 million.

This budget also includes $4.28 million for KCDC for the revitalization of Walter P. Taylors Homes in the Five Points neighborhood, bringing the city’s total contribution for this neighborhood transformation over the past 10 years to more than $13,000,000. 

Other highlights in this proposed budget include: 

Continued funding for the Save Our Sons initiative. 

Continued funding for the Second Chance program in the Public Service Department that provides temporary employment, job skills training, and referrals leading to permanent jobs for formerly incarcerated individuals.

$325,000 for Community Schools, which is an increase to support the expansion to more schools.  

Continued funding of $400,000 for the Behavioral Health Urgent Care Center.

Continued funding for historic preservation, blighted property acquisition and remediation, greenway expansion, bicycle infrastructure, and street paving.

Increased funding for KAT to extend later service hours and increase frequency of service on certain routes.

Improvements will be made to KAT Route 17- Sutherland Avenue to prepare for five new all-electric buses – the first in our fleet – which will be used first on this route.  

Harriet Tubman Park will receive $450,000 in improvements; and the Ed Cothren Pool in Malcolm-Martin Park is budgeted for $100,000 in improvements.

The Historic Burlington area will receive $350,000 in public improvements.

$200,000 is budgeted to develop a Master Plan for Chilhowee Park, and

$1.62 million in grants will go to more than 65 arts, community, and social service agencies, and $300,000 is allocated for the public art fund.

City Employees

To provide all these City services and to implement these programs and investments (and others I don’t have time to mention) I depend on an incredible team of conscientious and hard-working city employees. 

I’d like to ask my Cabinet, department heads, and all City staff to stand or raise their hands. Please help me thank them for their commitment to the residents of this City. 

I am pleased to recommend an investment next year in them – the heart and soul of public service -- with a 3 percent across-the-board raise for city employees. 

A budget is more than a lot of numbers that better add up right. A budget is actually a policy document and a roadmap. It reflects the vision, goals and strategies of an organization.  

This budget I have presented today is very ambitious, but it is also practical, realistic, and affordable.  

It values and invests in people, particularly the most vulnerable among us; it guarantees efficient and reliable government services; it responsibly invests in and maintains public buildings and infrastructure; and it enhances our quality of life with a focus on sustainability and preservation.

I present this budget to all of you and to City Council and look forward to discussing it further.  

Thanks again for coming today, and enjoy the rest of this beautiful day.