In a first of its kind, The Knoxville Focus with the permission of the County Mayor’s Office, took on a unique photographic project. The idea was to photograph, not the Mayor, but the finance director before, during, and after the budget was presented to commission.  Over the course of more than twenty hours and over two months, The Knoxville Focus was given an exclusive inside look into the hard work and dedication of the finance team- led by Chris Caldwell.  The parameters of this task were simple. No staged shots and everything was embargoed- any budget information that I might hear was not to be repeated until the budget was final.  Many safeguards were put in place to ensure that I would not have access to sensitive information. We live in  an era of Twitter, sound bites, and rapid, short news cycles.  However, we at The Knoxville Focus still believe in the long story, the whole story, and covering it from the beginning to the end.


***Before the budget is announced*****

My first impression

As I approached the City County Building I noticed Chris Caldwell was already hard at work. His office is the corner office on the top floor.

This photo was taken as we were headed to breakfast. I snapped this photo because it highlighted that even in the heart of the budget process, Mr. Caldwell can still look professional and even crack a smile.

During the budget process a lot of deep thought and reflection are required to decide what stays in and what stays out. In this picture, Mr. Caldwell is listening to his team discuss the budget.

This is by far my favorite photo. Mr. Caldwell was on a conference call with the Knox County Purchasing Department. He hears about a community organization asking for a lot of money. In the end, the community organization was in the budget.

This photo was taken when Mr. Caldwell was reviewing and calculating the budget. This is a typical day at the office for Chris Caldwell.

****Budget Day. May 1st 2012****

This is Dolores Cohen getting the packets ready for county commissioners this morning. I took this picture and found it interesting that even when R. Larry Smith is not in the picture and nowhere around…he still finds a way to be in the picture!

Mr. Caldwell sitting in the front row ready at a moments notice to answer any questions.

This is the Mayor’s team in action. The team was headed to their individual cars to drive to different locations throughout Knox County to explain the budget and listen to feedback.

This photo was taken on our way to Carter Senior Center. The white SUV on the left is the Mayor’s. I was traveling with the finance department.


While in Carter, a member of the community asked about who will fund the playground at the new Carter Elementary School. It was one of the only questions of the day asked.


In conclusion, I was very impressed with the finance department. The team works amazingly well.  While observing the team I quickly realized how well trained, well prepared, and well organized, this unit is. I would like to personally thank everyone from the Mayor’s communication department and the finance department, for allowing me such an amazing opportunity to show the public what really goes on in creating a county budget.

Dan Andrews reporting