Rogero reveals proposed Knoxville budget

Rogero reveals proposed Knoxville budget

Posted:
Mayor Madeline Rogero revealed her budget proposal. Mayor Madeline Rogero revealed her budget proposal.

By JILL MCNEAL
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero presented her proposed budget to city council members and the public Friday at Ijams Nature Center in South Knoxville.

"This budget that I'm about to present is really, not ultimately about finances. It's really about a vision for our city, how we will grow, what services we will provide, and what quality of life we all will enjoy," Rogero said.

The net proposed city budget is $295.8 million, with the general fund making up about $183.2 million, which amounts to a 1.45% increase in the general fund from last year.

Among the mayor's proposed budget items were three main capital projects - a new public works complex for $15 million, $5.2 for building demolition at Lakeshore Park, and $10 million in investments at the Knoxville Zoo.

"The plan is to become a national leader in the conservation of Malayan tigers, to build a state of the art amphibian and reptile conservation center and to further enhance Kids Cove," Rogero explained about the zoo funding.

Those projects would mean $31.4 million in new debt.

"When the costs are very low in the market and construction costs are still very competitive, it makes sense considering we have a lot of borrowing capacity, it makes sense to use some of that capacity to go out to the market to fund these big projects and get them over with," Rogero said.

City employees would also receive a 2.5% pay increase, if the mayor's budget is approved.

Mayor Rogero wants to invest money in bringing a lower-cost airline to McGhee Tyson Airport.

Her budget also calls for improvements to the Civic Coliseum and roadway projects.

You can read the full details of the budget on the City of Knoxville website.

Hearings on the budget proposal were held last month, with city departments submitting their requests.

The biggest request came from the Knoxville Police Department to cover the cost of additional ammo and 40 more officers. The request amounts to $4 million in new spending.

The mayor did not include that in her budget.

"That is an operating expense which we just don't have the funds for," Rogero said.

"We can do a heck of a lot more with more officers, but as I've said, we continue to do great things with what we have," Police Chief David Rausch said.

The mayor did include funding for a new police academy to bring the department up to full strength. There are currently 404 officers on the force. The budget allows for 416.

The fire department is also asking for a little more than a half a million dollars for equipment upgrades.

City administrators have already said the 2013-2014 budget will not include any property tax increases.

Remember, all of this is just the mayor's suggested budget. It still has to be approved by the city council.

They'll be discussing it on May 21 and 22. The public can weigh in starting at 5 p.m. on May 22.

The city is currently operating on a general fund budget of $180 million.

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