Mayor Kincannon's Proposed Budget Invests Heavily in Protecting Core Services, Public Safety

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
[email protected]
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Mayor Kincannon's Proposed Budget Invests Heavily in Protecting Core Services, Public Safety

Posted: 04/22/2022
Mayor Indya Kincannon
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Mayor Indya Kincannon today proposed her 2022-23 budget, which prioritizes protecting the high quality of City core services, enhancing public safety, and allocating new funding for affordable housing, roads, parks and stormwater infrastructure.

Mayor Kincannon proposed investing more than $16 million in new funding to retain the City’s hard-working, innovative and uniquely-skilled employees, as well as to hire new talent to fill roughly 140 staff vacancies – 100 of those in the Police and Public Service Departments alone.

That, she said, is the key to being able to continue to offer city residents the quality services they rely on and expect. A comprehensive study by outside experts concluded that City employees are paid about 10 percent below market value, and the City has reached a crossroads.

To pay for the adjustments to the City’s pay scale, and to keep up with rising costs for materials due to inflation, Mayor Kincannon is proposing a 50-cent increase in the City property tax rate to $2.96 per $100 of assessed value. 

City officials are awaiting the conclusion of state-mandated property reappraisals by the Knox County Property Assessor and the estimated certified tax rate but estimate that the equalized rate will be the lowest in the City since at least 1974.

About 80 percent of the new revenue will go to employee compensation – including a new minimum wage of $15 an hour for all City workers.

“I have heard your requests for more police officers on our streets,” the Mayor told attendees at her State of the City Address today. “I have heard your requests for higher quality roads and sidewalks, for more greenways, and top-notch parks in all neighborhoods. And I’ve heard your requests for more affordable housing.”

Mayor Kincannon said the new revenue is needed to protect core services and support first responders and public works employees while also ensuring the City continues to invest in the infrastructure needed to thrive in the years to come.

“This is not only the right thing to do for our hard-working employees,” she said. “It is the right thing to do for all of us who work and live here and rely on our police, fire and non-uniformed workers who keep our neighborhoods safe and livable.

“Our first responders always have our back, and now it’s time we’ve got theirs.”

The Mayor said that City employees – the people who save lives and provide essential services – “have been doing more with less. Their commitment is unwavering, but working short-staffed is not safe and it’s not sustainable.”

Mayor Kincannon’s budget continues to emphasize four core values – maximizing public safety, enhancing healthy and connected neighborhoods, building a clean and resilient future, and supporting thriving businesses and creating good jobs.

Highlights in her 2022-23 budget include:

Public Safety
People deserve to be and feel safe in Knoxville. Public safety is a core, basic function of government, and this budget invests in the Police and Fire Departments and supports partnerships that address urgent public safety needs.

$2.3 million invested in Fire and Police Department vehicles and equipment, including creation of a Real Time Crime Center, a critical tool in providing immediate police response to criminal acts

The late 2022 opening of the new Public Safety Complex at the vacated St. Mary's campus – a $63.7 million investment in public safety but also in community-building

    • The North Knoxville site will house Police, Fire, E-911, Pension System and City Court operations, with Lincoln Memorial University college classrooms and green space, housing or a mix of private redevelopment, and eventually an urgent care and behavioral health facility
Nearly $5.8 million for core public safety partners, including the Behavioral Health Urgent Care Center, Family Justice Center, McNabb Center, Young-Williams Animal Center and E-911
    • $1.5 million in Community Agency Grants to local non-profits providing services ranging from mental health and addiction treatment to youth-serving programs

Healthy & Connected Neighbors
The City strives to ensure Knoxville is a great place to live – no matter your neighborhood – no matter your income. This budget supports affordable housing and projects and partners that enhance the quality of life across our community.

$10.8 million dedicated to increasing the availability of affordable housing and to creating pathways to housing and stability for individuals already experiencing homelessness
    • $4.2 million – Transforming Western plan for Western Heights
    • $1.6 million – First Creek at Austin Homes
    • $2.5 million – Affordable Rental Development Fund
    • $1 million – local funds (supplemented by $1.3 million in federal assistance) supporting homelessness services, including street outreach and the Foyer, a low-barrier shelter
    • $1.5 million – federal funds for permanent supportive housing
Park improvements – $10.2 million citywide
    • Significant investments:
      - Augusta Quarry / Fort Dickerson Park
      - Lakeshore Park
      - Ijams Nature Center
      - Lonsdale Park
      - Williams Creek Golf Course
      - Urban Wilderness
Connectivity is key – mobility and accessibility upgrades
    • $800,000 for new sidewalk design, repairs and curb cuts
    • $250,000 for Americans with Disabilities Act upgrades

Clean and Resilient Future
Increasing local renewables is a priority of the Mayor’s Climate Council. The City is committed to reducing its carbon footprint, operating more efficiently, and delivering a more sustainable and resilient city to future generations.

More than $20 million to proactively upgrade aging City stormwater and utility infrastructure (funded through the American Rescue Plan Act)
    • Includes priority investments, such as the Cherry Street Drainage Project ($2.3 million), flood mitigation and resiliency ($1.3 million), dilapidated pipe remediation ($1 million), Baum Drive Improvement Project ($700,000)

    • $2.75 million dedicated to improving water quality, restoring streams (including 1,000 linear feet of creek restoration in Mary Vestal Park)
Increasing opportunities to support renewable energy by partnering with KUB and TVA on Knoxville's first community solar array
    • KUB is building the 1-megawatt array on 3 acres at the City’s Public Works Service Center

    • It will generate enough renewable energy annually to avoid approximately 964 metric tons of CO2 emissions – the equivalent of saving more than 100,000 gallons of gasoline
Vision Zero in action: Safe roads, shared by motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists
    • Investing $8.6 million in transportation infrastructure at specific high-priority locations, including funds to create separated bike-pedestrian paths
      - Washington Pike
      - Neyland Drive
      - East Knox Greenway, connecting Harriet Tubman Park and the Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum

Thriving Businesses & Good Jobs
A healthy economy supports a healthy community, and vice versa. This budget supports Knoxville as a great place to work, to invest, to visit, start a business, and to raise a family.

Nearly $1.2 million to support Knoxville’s economic development partners
    • Knoxville Chamber
    • KCDC
    • Knoxville Entrepreneur Center
    • Centro Hispano
    • 100 Knoxville
    • The Maker City initiative
    • Spark Cleantech Accelerator
KUB rolling out high-speed high-quality broadband
    • City funding $300,000 to KUB’s Student Internet Access Program, which will provide free access to qualifying low-income student households
Look for construction to begin this year on an $80 million City- and County-owned multi-use stadium in East Knoxville, just east of the Old City
    • The stadium – supported by a $13.5 million state economic development grant and a roughly $1 million annual lease paid by the Tennessee Smokies – is scheduled to open in time for the 2025 baseball season, though the stadium may possibly be ready in 2024 to host concerts, festivals or other public events
    • Total economic impact of the stadium and surrounding private development: $480 million over 30 years; more than 400 full-time jobs to be created
    • The City’s anticipated payment toward the stadium debt would be about $240,000 annually for the first 10 years; at that point, according to an independent economic impact analysis, the project has the potential to pay for itself

The proposed net budget is approximately $434.1 million. Of that, the General Fund – which is the City’s main operating fund – is $275.6 million.

Mayor Kincannon’s proposed budget will be presented for first reading at City Council on May 3, 2022, followed by legislative budget hearings and public hearings on May 12-13. Council’s second reading of the budget is scheduled for May 17.

For supporting budget documents, see Files will be available by 2 p.m. April 22, 2022.