No tax increases in Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero's 1st budget

No tax increases in Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero's 1st budget

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Mayor Madeline Rogero gives her budget address (source: City of Knoxville) Mayor Madeline Rogero gives her budget address (source: City of Knoxville)

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero released her first budget proposal Friday with no tax increases or layoffs.

More than 750 people attended Rogero's budget address at Victor Ashe Park in Northwest Knoxville.

The 2012-2013 FY Budget has a 4.87% increase in the general fund, which is the city's main operating fund, and on which its tax rate is based.

The general fund total is $180,562,500, which includes the capital budget at $24,396,890.

Much of the reason for the general fund increase, according to the mayor's office, is due to health care costs, benefits and the city's pension contribution.

An increase of $2.2 million to the pension plan, with the total budgeted contributions at $14.4 million, is included in the budget.

Mayor Rogero is also proposing $10 million be taken from the fund balance to pay down unfunded pension liability.

Other items in the proposed budget include:

  • Funding for the Office of Sustainability at $146,120, which covers two staff people and office expenses that had been funded by grants
  • Full funding of the city's street paving program at $5.45 million
  • Blighted Properties and Codes Enforcement: Funding for an Administrative Hearing Officer at $20,000; $100,000 in seed funding for Demolition by Neglect program to ensure that historic properties are not condemned to destruction due to inaction of owners; and $800,000 for chronic problem and blighted properties (an increase of $300,000)
  • A 25% increase in the tree-planting program to $50,000; an Urban Forester budgeted at $64,770. There is also an extension for First Creek greenway from Woodland to Edgewood Park at $1,060,000
  • A total of $1.73 million proposed for new construction and repair of sidewalks and crosswalks including sidewalk and crosswalk improvements on Sutherland Avenue across from the new UT athletic fields
  • Additional $2.6 million to complete new level and pedestrian overpass for State Street Garage
  • Increase of $50,000 in operating expenses for Knoxville Zoo for a total of $500,000 to also include renovation of facilities
  • Total of $125,000 for partnership with the Knoxville Community Development Corp. and the Knoxville - Knox County Community Action Committee to fund case managers for KCDC residents in danger of becoming homeless
  • Public Works facility planning and design services budgeted at $700,000 for a proposed Public Works complex
  • $500,000 for flooding issues in Cross Park Drive area and $850,000 for other neighborhood drainage issues. Total of $350,000 allocated for water quality improvements, an increase of $50,000.
  • New allocations include $500,000 for projects in Downtown North; $200,000 for Magnolia Warehouse Redevelopment area; an additional $200,000 for Jackson Avenue redevelopment; and $200,000 for the commercial facade improvement program
  • $195,000 for HVAC improvements at Civic Coliseum
  • Operating grants totaling $359,000 for Knoxville Symphony, the Art Museum and 19 other arts and cultural groups.
  • The mayor's office says the budget reflects Rogero's commitment to strong neighborhoods, a greener Knoxville, an energized downtown and job creation.

    "It's important to continue to reinvest in our city at the same time that we're holding tight on our operating expenses," Rogero said.

    To cover the $8.3 million general fund increase without raising taxes, Mayor Rogero is recommending moving some of the funding for the budget from the city's rainy day fund.

    "The best news is that there's no tax increase. And Mayor Rogero is obviously running a pretty tight ship, but she's addressing some critical needs within the community," said former Knoxville Mayor Randy Tyree.

    City council will begin legislative hearings on the budget in May.

    6 News Reporter Jessa Lewis contributed to this report.

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