By Steve Hunley

As the City of Knoxville government considers the “Recode” proposal, I’ve heard that some officials are insisting Recode will not cause taxes to increase.  That just cannot be true.  While Recode has undergone more permutations than Frankenstein’s monster, the supposed purpose of Recode was to increase the “density” of Knoxville, meaning increase the population.  In fact, Terrence Carter of the Knoxville Area Urban League, said the population of Knoxville would increase by some 170,000 people by 2040.  According to one former city councilman, the population has increased by about 13,000 folks since 2000.  The current population of Knoxville is about 187,000, so Recode, which Knoxville’s longest serving mayor Victor Ashe, refers to as the most massive rezoning document in the city’s history, would about double the existing population.  Yet that would not cause taxes to rise steadily?

One would have to be naive to believe that. Think of what it would cost to quickly develop the infrastructure to handle roughly doubling the population and the strain it would cause.

Think about the cost to taxpayers, including those living outside the city limits, through the schools.  The City of Knoxville went out of the school business years ago and the school system is run by Knox County.  Virtually every school inside the city would be overcrowded, understaffed, and unable to absorb so many new students in such a relatively short period of time.  Some schools inside the city limits are landlocked and cannot grow; for the existing school buildings to be expanded, were there enough room, the City of Knoxville would likely have to condemn nearby property to make it feasible.  Other new schools would have to be built and a conservative estimate is $35 million per school and Knox County is already in deep debt.

Of course one big aspect of Recode is the notion many people – – – all while the population is growing at an alarming rate – – – are going to give up their automobiles.  More of us, including those of us sixty or older, will ride our bicycles or walk to get our groceries or do our daily errands.  Presumably folks living outside the city limits would still be driving wherever they wished and the city government would still be forced to pay for street repairs while considering greatly expanding public transportation since few city residents would still own cars.  That is before far leftists on the city council spend tens of millions on “affordable housing” for residents who produce little tax revenue and consume a lot of government resources.  And one wonders just who would be attracted to come and live in Knoxville, the Recode utopia?  Innovators, entrepreneurs, business people with vision for the future?  Or would Knoxville become a haven for those looking for free housing and to be taken care of?

Nothing is free.  Somebody, somewhere is paying for it.  It might be free to you, but if it is, somebody else is paying your way.

Eddie Mannis, who is running for mayor of Knoxville, has pointed out a person’s biggest financial asset is usually his or her home.  Government needs to be very careful before doing anything that affects every homeowner in Knoxville.  Recode is essentially a mass rezoning of the entire city of Knoxville.  Only Mannis has called for a common sense approach to the future, with the two other leading contenders for mayor supporting the Recode mess in whatever form it exists in on any given day.

Some once-great cities in America have become blighted; blighted by crime, poverty, with thousands of homes empty and decaying.  Once proud buildings deteriorating and rotting as the population has moved away from the city.

Knoxville’s mayor and city council aren’t building a Shining City on a Hill with Recode; they are attempting to build a far left utopian paradise without the slightest idea of what they are doing.  It isn’t going to be free and taxes are surely going to rise and continue to rise.  When the producers leave, meaning those who generate the tax revenue being spent, and all that remains behind are those who soak up those tax dollars through services, could our city become blighted and bankrupt? Soon it will be time for Knoxvillians to choose their own vision for Knoxville’s future.