Knoxville mayor announces $461.6 million budget

By Mike Steely

Senior Writer

Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon’s State of the City address Friday proposed a $461.6 million budget and an operating fund of $338 million. Her proposal comes with no property tax increase, now set at $2.1556 per $100 of assessed value, which she said is the lowest rate since 1974.

Mayor Kincannon was introduced by Vice Mayor Tommy Smith, who spoke about her “policy-driven leadership. The mayor spoke at the World’s Fair Park amphitheater, sheltered from a light rain under a roof that she said is being repaired to maintain the historic structure built for the 1982 event.

Her address focused on public safety, more affordable housing, job creation and public infrastructure investment.

Kincannon focused on changes in the city in her five years as mayor including the growth of the Urban Wilderness, converting the old Baptist Hospital to the new Public Safety Complex, construction of the Empath Center there for medical and behavioral health services, and renovations at the Sunsphere and World’s Fair Park including the work on a new roof.

Future projects Kincannon spoke of include a new Burlington Fire Station, street improvements, pay increases for police officers, incentive pay for fire department personnel and a 2.5 percent pay increase for all city employees.

Kincannon is proposing $8 million for additional affordable housing,  $7 million for park and recreation facility improvements and a new park for Lonsdale.

About $11.7 million is proposed for road safety including repairs, upgrades, bridges, signs and traffic signals. Traffic-calming in the city would also get $500,000 for speed bumps and other devices.

The budget includes $2.7 million in grants to agencies including the Young-Williams Animal Center. About $2.4 million may go to Zoo Knoxville. About $3 million was proposed for organizations like the Knoxville Chamber, Visit Knoxville, the Entrepreneur Center and Centro Hispano. More than $1.5 million is proposed for community partners such as the McNabb Center, Mental Health Association, Girl Talk, Emerald Youth, Big Brothers and Big Sisters and 100 Black Men. $310,000 may be approved for opioid treatment through local agencies with funding coming from awards from class-action lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies.

The budget proposal now goes to City Council for approval with the first reading set for Tuesday. The final vote on the proposed budget is set for May 28.