KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Members of the Knoxville community gathered Wednesday night to discuss concerns surrounding the city’s 2023-2024 proposed budget at the People’s State of the City.
The forum comes after Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon’s State of the City Address and Tuesday’s approval of the first reading of the budget by the City Council.
Brady Watson, a community organizer, helped put together the event and said there is limited opportunity for public input on the budget before it is presented.
“I would say we have concerns about the public engagement process, there’s not a whole lot of stakeholder engagement on the front end to actually see what the community is concerned about, what priorities they have,” Watson said. “So, when we get to this point, and when we actually have some public input, it’s essentially a done deal and so there’s not a whole lot of opportunity for changes anyway.”
Watson and others want to push a few specific issues to the top of the mayor’s priority list.
“Funding an alternative response team to KPD, so that folks who are, for example, experiencing a mental health emergency can have a social worker and not a police offer responding to their emergency, and then more funding for affordable housing,” he said.
Councilwoman Amelia Parker attended the meeting and echoed Watson’s concerns about a lack of public input.
“I support Knoxville revisiting our budgeting process, and devising ways that we can create a more participatory process to ensure that the priorities captured in the budget reflect the priorities of the community,” Parker said.
She was the only council member to vote against the approval of the first reading of the budget at Tuesday’s meeting.
“I am opposed to our budgeting process, I do not believe it gives city council members enough time to review the budget, and if we are to continue approving the budget on first reading, I believe we need three readings of the budget,” Parker said.
She also brought a resolution to postpone the second reading of the budget from May 16 to May 30, in order to have more time to meet with constituents.
The resolution to postpone passed at Tuesday’s meeting, and there will also be a public legislative budget hearing at 8 a.m. on May 9.