On Friday, Mayor Indya Kincannon proposed her first budget and presented her first State of the City address. Typically, this address is given in front of a live audience and in recent years has been delivered at the site of an ongoing development. Recent years have seen the speech given at the construction site at Regas Square, at Suttree Landing Park and the Urban Wilderness Gateway Park. This year was scheduled to be delivered at the construction site of the new Public Safety Complex, but was delivered via video, instead. The video is included below.
Mayor Kincannon began by reassuring Knoxville that we will get through this difficult time and that the city is in good financial shape to weather this health and economic storm. She said taxes are not increased in her budget proposal, despite the lost revenues to businesses and to the city. She said, “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.”
She said the budget will focus on our core needs even in the midst of required austerity. Those core functions of city government include Public Safety, Health and Connected Neighborhoods, a clean and resilient future and thriving businesses and jobs. While the restraints are tight, the budget does include $746,400 for the deployment of body worn cameras, along with software and staffing.
There is also a focus on affordable housing, with $7.5 million allocated, including $2.5 million in the Affordable Rental Development Fund to support the creation of new affordable and workforce housing, $4.5 million for “KCDC’s revitalization of the Homes community and another $500,000 for improvements in the Western Heights neighborhood.”
Sustainability funding was included for recycling, transit and “improvements in energy efficiency at City facilities,” and “$1.18 million to support critical repairs to the City’s stormwater infrastructure . . .”
Acknowledging the economic stresses in the current situation, “The budget continues to support job growth and development, including providing $540,000 for business development efforts led by the Knoxville Chamber and Knoxville Entrepreneur Center. To support long-term workforce development efforts in the community, the 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.”
Saying, “It is a time of adaptation, of innovation, of collaboration, and of efficiency,” she announced a comprehensive COVID-19 recovery budget, which outlines a City commitment of more than $4.1 million to support the community’s response to the pandemic and address immediate needs facing residents.” Within this, “more than $1.1 million will go toward direct rent and mortgage payment assistance.”
Mayor Kincannon said, “We are very aware many people have lost their sources of income and are worried about paying their rent or mortgage. That is why it was imperative that the City develop a program that can help ease that burden.” The city has already directed over $1 million to help with the current disaster, with $700,000 allocated to Zoo Knoxville, “$95,000 to “The Guest House” to serve individuals experiencing homelessness, $100,000 for Community Action Committee’s Homeward Bound program, and over $115,000 for expenses incurred for emergency response.”
Additional funding announced 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.
She noted that as the crisis evolves, the city’s response will have to do the same.
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.
For the full text of Mayor Kincannon’s State of the City Address and all supporting budget documents, go knoxvilletn.gov/budget. You can read the full 154 page budget document here.
For the giveaway I asked everyone to “like” Knoxville Page on Facebook, donate at least ten dollars to a COVID related cause and send me an email telling me that you’ve done both, along with the amount and cause. It gives us a chance to see how much help we can join together to spread around. Congratulations to Robyn McAdoo who won the $25 gift card to Union Avenue Books and to Nancy Watson who won the $25 gift card to the Art Market Gallery.
Cumulatively readers who entered contests so far have donated:
$90 to a home cleaner (to not clean the house)
$25 to the Knoxville Service Industry Fund
$40 to Second Harvest
$100 to Collection for 12 Sevier Avenue Businesses
$20 to Central Cinema
$20 to Knoxville Zoo
$20 to the YWCA
$20 to Young-Williams Animal Shelter
$10 to the United Way Covid Response
$100 to the UT Vet College Assistance Care Fund
$5 for PPE for Health Care Workers in New England
$5 to the CDC COVID Relief Fund
$25 for a Union Avenue Gift Card
$15 to Ruby Tuesday’s Fund to Purchase Lunch for a frontline worker
$15 for a first responder’s lunch
$30 to a musician who appeared on the Blue Plate Special
1 Local Love Box Purchased
$20 to Project Be Kind
Thank you to everyone who entered and donated. Let’s keep it rolling. This week I’m purchasing a $25 gift card to Bliss/Tori Mason and another a pristine, clear vinyl LP copy of R.B. Morris’ latest album “Going Back to the Sky. It’s the first time R.B. has had a record pressed on vinyl and there are only 200 copies. It also comes with a digital download card. To enter send an email to KnoxvilleUrbanGuy@gmail.com with the subject header “Bliss/Tori Mason Gift Card Giveaway” or “R.B. Morris Album Giveaway,” depending on which you want to enter.
Same rules as before: “like” Knoxville Page on Facebook to help us help local businesses and donate at least $10 to something supporting COVID efforts or to someone impacted by the pandemic. Confirm in the email that you’ve done both and tell me how much and to whom you donated. Each entry requires its own donation. If you cannot donate at this time, enter anyway and just say so. It’s all good. The contest runs until midnight Friday night.