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Mayor Rogero presents State of the City


Mayor Rogero's 2017-18 Budget: Affordable Housing, LED Streetlights, Sidewalks, Urban Wilderness

Friday, April 28, 2017
- In her State of the City address today, Mayor Madeline Rogero said Knoxville is benefiting from new investment and energy across the city, and she proposed major initiatives in next year’s budget to build on that momentum.

Mayor Rogero arrives
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Among the priorities in the proposed budget are a new affordable housing fund, a major jump in funding for new sidewalks, significant additions to the City’s Urban Wilderness areas, and the conversion of all Knoxville streetlights to energy-efficient LED bulbs.

“This is the State of our City in 2017: enlivened, energized, connected to its past and excited about its future,” Mayor Rogero said. “It is a city with plenty of challenges, but it is also a city that has learned how to work together and find solutions.”

Pointing to growth in jobs, private capital investment, and tourism and convention business, Mayor Rogero said, “To put it simply, Knoxville is on the map.”

The proposed net budget for 2017-18 is $353.8 million, a 16.9 percent increase over 2016-17. There is no proposed property tax increase. The growth in the budget comes from growth in revenue, a capital bond issue and strategic investment of a portion of the City’s fund balance. 

Among the initiatives included in the proposed budget are:

• The conversion of Knoxville’s nearly 30,000 streetlights to LED technology. This $17.5 million capital investment will be funded with a bond issue, which is expected to pay for itself in lower energy costs in less than a decade and then save taxpayers an estimated $2 million a year. This will make Knoxville the first of Tennessee’s four largest cities to make the LED conversion. It will also enable the City to exceed its goal of reducing carbon emissions from City operations by 20 percent from their 2005 levels by the year 2020.

• The creation of a new affordable housing fund, with an initial investment of $2 million, to help fill financing gaps for developers of designated affordable rental housing. The budget also includes the City’s ninth annual contribution of $800,000 to assist KCDC in the redevelopment of Five Points/Walter P. Taylor Homes, plus an additional $1.55 million for public infrastructure improvements in that area.

• A $1.7 million investment in the growing Urban Wilderness Corridor in South Knoxville, including $400,000 for a new Urban Wilderness trailhead and parking area at the southern end of James White Parkway, $1 million to improve access and recreational facilities at Fort Dickerson Quarry, and $300,000 for a trail alongside Gulf and Ohio Railways tracks from Chapman Highway to Ijams Nature Center.

• An increase of $2.2 million over previous years for new sidewalk construction, bringing the total allocation for new sidewalks to $2.95 million. That will allow the City to immediately address five major identified projects in neighborhoods across Knoxville, and it will also fund a citywide study to help prioritize needed sidewalk connections.

• And capital investments including $5 million for phase two of the Magnolia Avenue Streetscapes project; $3 million for a permanent performance stage and drainage improvements to the South Lawn of World’s Fair Park; $2.1 million for improvements to the Knoxville Convention and Exhibition Center (adjacent to World’s Fair Park and the Holiday Inn), and $7.5 million to add two floors of parking to the State Street Garage. 

Also included in the proposed budget are previously announced commitments to youth recreation facilities at the Change Center in East Knoxville ($250,000, in addition to $250,000 this current year) and in Lonsdale ($1 million in infrastructure to support a proposed Emerald Youth Foundation sports complex). It includes an additional $600,000 for Knoxville Area Transit to provide direct transit service to the Change Center on select routes, and year one of a total three-year commitment of $250,000 to support the Boys and Girls Clubs operations at four KCDC housing developments.

Mayor Rogero is also proposing $400,000 to support a Behavioral Health Urgent Care Center, which will provide an alternative to jail for people who need mental health or addiction treatment. The facility will be run by the Helen Ross McNabb Center, under contract with Knox County.

Also in the budget:

• A 2.5 percent cost-of-living salary increase for all City employees. 
• $1 million for new greenway corridors.
• $500,000 for new bicycle infrastructure.
• $300,000 for public art, and $400,000 in grants to local arts and culture organizations.
• $800,000 in grants to community and social service agencies that provide critical services to Knoxville residents.
• And $500,000 to help restore and preserve historic commercial and residential properties.

Knoxville City Council will consider the budget on first reading at its May 9 meeting, followed by Council’s public budget hearing on May 12. 

Click here to view the 2017-2018 Adopted Annual Operating Budget [PDF]