Knoxville mayor releases proposed city budget, COVID-19 recovery budget

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon released her first city budget proposal in a remote State of the City Address Friday while also announcing a proposed COVID-19 recovery budget.

The proposed capital budget is smaller than in recent years due to reduced revenues amid the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the operating budget maintains the staffing and resource levels necessary to continue to advance key city priorities.

“The city of Knoxville is fortunate to be on firm financial footing, despite the very real impacts of COVID-19 and the reduced sales tax revenues that we project over the coming months. Years of responsible stewardship of taxpayer dollars affords us the ability to weather the economic implications of this storm without furloughing staff, cutting services, or deferring maintenance of critical infrastructure.”

Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon

The proposal focuses reflects the core values of Kincannon’s administration and of the Knoxville community: public safety, healthy and connected neighborhoods, a clean and resilient future and thriving businesses and jobs.

The largest portion of the budget is devoted to the operations of the Police and Fire Departments in order to advance Public Safety as a primary and core function of City government. To increase police transparency and accountability, the budget includes $746,400 for the deployment of body-worn cameras, along with software and staffing. 

Some $7.5 million has been proposed to support affordable housing in Knoxville, including continuing the city’s investment of $2.5 million in the Affordable Rental Development Fund. Also in the budget, $4.5 million is allocated for Knoxville Community Development Corporation’s revitalization of the Austin Homes community and another $500,000 for improvements in the Western Heights neighborhood.

The proposed budget also maintains the city’s partnership with the Community Schools Initiative and funds upgrades at city recreation centers to enhance technology access for residents. It would also support initiatives such as recycling and transit as well as improvements in energy efficiency at city facilities.

A proposed $1.18 million would go to support critical repairs to the city’s stormwater infrastructure to help Knoxville be more resilient to flooding from heavy rains that have impacted the city in the past two years during the month of February.

The budget would also provide $540,000 for business development efforts led by the Knoxville Chamber and Knoxville Entrepreneur Center.

COVID-19 Recovery Budget

The $4.1 million COVID-19 Recovery Budget includes costs incurred since Mayor Kincannon declared a state of emergency on March 16. More than $1.1 million will go toward direct rent and mortgage payment assistance. Knoxville has already spent over $1 million on needs related to COVID-19.

Additional funding announced Friday includes:

  • $500,000 to the United Way COVID Response Fund to support local non-profits providing essential services for those affected by the crisis
  • $200,000 to fund Second Harvest, Mobile Meals, and other agencies responding to immediate food and nutrition needs
  • $349,637 through federal funds to purchase safety and personal protective equipment for Police
  • $428,017 in locally- and federally-funded grants to agencies supporting individuals experiencing or facing homelessness
  • $100,000 for workforce development efforts to support long-term recovery
  • $417,500 for Public Safety COVID-19 Response Bonuses in appreciation of first responders in the City’s Police & Fire Departments.

The mayor will present her budget to City Council on May 5, 2020, for a first reading.  It will require two readings prior to the start of the new fiscal year on July 1, 2020.

Mayor Kincannon will also be available to answer any budget-related questions during a Facebook Live scheduled for 3 p.m. Friday, April 24, 2020. Questions can be submitted ahead of time by emailing them to kfarley@knoxvilletn.gov.

For the full text of Mayor Kincannon’s State of the City Address and all supporting budget documents, go knoxvilletn.gov/budget.

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