Guide to City Departments

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The following is not an all-inclusive list of city departments, but they may be the ones that businesses would need to contact more often.


State law requires that all businesses (with exceptions for certain professions, manufacturers, and certain disabled persons) inside the city of Knoxville have both city and county business licenses. Please be advised that the purchase of a City of Knoxville or Knox County business license does not authorize you to violate the zoning requirements or relieve you of permit requirements by the Office of Inspections. Other permits found in the Business Tax License/Tax Office website are: Add Business Partner Affidavit, Amusement Tax Report, Beer Permit, Garage Sale Permit, Going Out of Business Sale Permit, Hotel Occupancy Privilege Tax Form, Out of State Contractor Forms, Vendor License Permit, Wholesale Alcohol Beverage Dealers Monthly Report and Dog in Patios Permit.

Contact info:
City of Knoxville Business License/Tax Office
Department of Finance and Accountability, Business Tax Section
City County Building
400 Main St. - Suite 450
Knoxville, TN 37902
Phone: 865-215-2083


This office is responsible for the review, permitting, licensing and inspection of all construction projects within the City of Knoxville and consists of Plans Review, Building Inspections, Electrical Inspections, Signs and Zoning Inspections, Mechanical/Gas Inspections and Plumbing Inspections. 

Contact info:
Peter Ahrens, Director
City County Building
Suite 475
Phone: 865-215-3669
Fax: 865-215-2627
Email: [email protected] 


All building plans are reviewed for compliance with the National Fire Protection Association and all construction must be inspected and approved. Headed by the City's Fire Marshal, this office performs all of the following services: Enforces all state and local codes involving fire safety and prevention, reviews all plans, performs inspections for all new construction and remodeling of buildings, monitors special vents for cooking, tents and large public gatherings and much more. 

Contact info:
Capt. Donald M. Partin Jr., CFPS
Deputy Fire Marshal
City of Knoxville Fire Dept. Fire Marshal's Office
City County Building
400 Main St. - Suite 403
Knoxville, TN 37902
Phone: 865-215-2283


This office is responsible for the review, permitting, and inspection of all site development projects; review, and approval of all administrative and final plats; maintaining the ward map and records; Street lighting, Investigating water quality and quantity requests; and administering the NPDES permit within the City of Knoxville. Additionally, this office consists of Plans Review, Development Inspections, Water Quality/Quantity, and Technical Services. This office issues Site Development Permits, Special Pollution Abatement Permits, and ROW Permits. Access the Stormwater Division web page to find links to the Best Management Practices Manual, Land Development Manual, Stormwater and Street Ordinance, Flood Damage and Protection Ordinance, plan details, and other development related information. 

Contact info:
Christopher S. Howley, P.E.
Engineering Planning Chief
Phone: 865-215-2148
Email: [email protected] 


Community Development administers a variety of programs geared toward the revitalization of Knoxville's low-to-moderate income neighborhoods. In order for resources to have the greatest impact, the Department targets its programs to strategy areas that are selected periodically. Programs available to businesses include the Facade Improvement Program and the Empowerment Zone Business Expansion Loan Program (BELP). 

Becky Wade, Director
City County Building
400 Main St. - Room 532
Knoxville, TN 37902
Phone: 865-215-2865
Email: [email protected] 


Businesses looking to set up shop in a particular neighborhood and especially businesses needing a zoning change, use-on-review or other regulatory approvals to be able to develop property in or near a residential neighborhood are encouraged to contact the impacted neighborhood, business and professional organizations to establish communication and a good relationship from the start. If it is not clear which organization represents the neighborhood you are concerned about, or if you wish to be sure that you are contacting all the resident groups that might claim impact from your project, please contact [email protected] . 

Contact info:
Debbie Sharp, Neighborhood Coordinator
Phone: 865-215-3232
Email: [email protected]


Understand that, when a business is built or renovated, it must comply with the 2010 ADA Standards. To view a guide that will assist small business owners in understanding how this new regulation applies to them please visit 

Contact info:
Stephanie Brewer Cook
Disability Services Coordinator
Room 515, City County Building
Phone: 865-215-2120
TTY: 865-215-4581
Email: [email protected]


311 is Knoxville's phone number. Knoxville's 311 receives approximately 250,000 calls per year and is one of the most cost efficient centers in the country while consistently receiving high marks for customer service. Dial 3-1-1 to access information about services provided by the City. 

Contact info:
Russ Jensen, Director 311 Call Center
Phone: 865-215-4311
Email: [email protected] 


The policy of the Purchasing Division is to achieve the highest degree of open, free market competition when soliciting pricing and/or proposals. All quotes, bids and/or proposals shall receive equal, fair and non-preferential treatment throughout the entire procurement process. 

Contact info:
City of Knoxville Purchasing
City County Building
400 Main St. - Room 667
Knoxville, TN 37902
Phone: 865-215-2070
Email: [email protected] 

The City's Small Business and Diversity Outreach is also available to assist small, minority, and women-owned businesses through the procurement process. 

Contact info:
Pamela Cotham, Assistant Purchasing Agent - Small Business Outreach
Phone: 865-215-4032
Email: [email protected] 

Luis Garcia, Diversity Business Specialist (English/Español)
Phone: 865-215-2293
Email: [email protected]