Gov. Haslam finds $30,000 in budget for South Knoxville aid

Gov. Haslam finds $30,000 in budget for South Knoxville aid

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Others hoped lawmakers would approve bills involving property or sales tax breaks for businesses, but without enough support, those bills are now dead. Others hoped lawmakers would approve bills involving property or sales tax breaks for businesses, but without enough support, those bills are now dead.
Ron Emery says tax relief would have most effectively helped his business. Ron Emery says tax relief would have most effectively helped his business.

By MIKE KRAFCIK
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The Tennessee state Senate Thursday agreed to minor changes made to the budget Wednesday in the House, which passed 83-14.

The budget approval signals the state legislative session is drawing to a close.

On Thursday afternoon, the general assembly signed off on a series of Gov. Haslam's budget amendments.  

One budget amendment is a $30,000 economic development grant for the Legacy Parks Foundation, the organization tasked to help market the struggling businesses in South Knoxville.  

The grant matches the $40,000 pledged by the city and county last month.

"With the city and county, now the state chipping in, it will make quite a difference to us. So we appreciate everyone trying to help," said Ron Emery, owner of Emery 5&10. 

The state's aid is the result of months of meetings between the Knox County legislative delegation and Gov. Haslam's economic team.

"Through mine and other members' work down here, we have worked with the governor and his office on getting some help for South Knoxville," said State Sen. Becky Duncan Massey.  

Others hoped lawmakers would approve bills involving property or sales tax breaks for businesses, but without enough support, those bills are now dead.

Ron Emery says tax relief would have most effectively helped his business.

"I really wanted the sales tax abatement, because that gives us a marketing niche for people to come over and shop in South Knoxville," said Emery.

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett called on the state to help out in the wake of the Henley Bridge closure.

Mayor Burchett sent letters to the county legislative delegation and was disappointed lawmakers didn't budge in reducing franchise and excise taxes for the area.

"The majority of our leadership is from East Tennessee or upper East Tennessee, and it just seems we don't do anything for our locals here, and it just seems to go middle and west. But that's the cards we're dealt," said Mayor Burchett.

Despite all of the grant money being lined up, it could take months before a marketing plan is developed.

"That's my biggest fear, we lose more businesses before we have a marketing plan out there," Burchett said.

State Rep. Joe Armstrong said lawmakers initially asked for $40,000 of grant money, which was $10,000 less than what was budgeted.

Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero released a statement regarding the state aid for South Knoxville.

"I am grateful on behalf of South Knoxville merchants and residents for this support from the state, particularly Sen. Massey and Gov. Haslam. The ongoing closure of the Henley Bridge has created hardships for businesses along Chapman Highway, and I'm glad that the state has stepped up to offer some assistance."

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