KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett finished his budget presentation with a bang, popping a party popper and saying, “In the past, some people have been critical of me for not having enough fireworks in my budget, so here you go.”
Mayor Burchett said there are several noted additions to his $798 million budget. The budget includes over $26 million in new revenue and fully funds Knox County Schools’ budget, including a three percent raise to teachers.
“It doesn’t matter how many schools we build if we don’t have outstanding teachers in the classroom and I’m happy to support an increase to teachers’ pay with this proposal,” said Burchett.
The budget includes over $471 million for Knox County Schools, in addition to $5 million to kindergarten intervention, early literacy support, and the Great Schools Partnership. It also includes $5.8 million out of the general county capital improvement fund to complete Gibbs Middle School and build infrastructure at Hardin Valley Middle School.
Mayor Burchett is also proposing $750,000 out of the capital improvement budget to add a new athletic field to South Doyle Middle School and add a BMX track on the side of the current stadium. Knox County Parks and Recreation will hold a public meeting on June 1 from 6-8 p.m. in the South Doyle Middle School auditorium to discuss the changes.
Burchett said BMX is seeing a surge in popularity and BMX events are having millions of dollars of economic impact in cities like Lousiville, Kentucky; and Rock Hill, South Carolina.
“These events are putting heads in beds, diners in restaurants and shoppers in stores, and there is no reason we can’t attract these events and add to the outdoor tourism momentum that already exists in South Knoxville,” said Burchett. “The best part is if we build this facility, it won’t just be for large, sanctioned events. There will also be opportunities for kids and families to come out and try something new and get active in a growing sport. I’m excited about working with the community in moving forward with this unique project that can impact local tourism and also provide important improvements to South Doyle Middle School.”
The $36.9 million capital improvement plan also includes over $12 million to complete phase III of the Schaad Road extension and $10.9 million for highway and bridge maintenance, including $3.5 million for road and highway resurfacing. Burchett said along with state aid, the county will be able to pay for 35-40 miles of paving.
The budget also includes a two percent pay increase for county employees as well as $84 million for public safety funding including $80 million for the Knox County Sheriff’s Office and $4.1 million for new radios, 45 new vehicles for the sheriff’s office and other items.
“Knox County has always been a great community and a great place to live, but right now is an especially exciting time to call this area our home,” said Burchett. ” Our economy is doing well, we’re growing jobs, we’re keeping taxes low and improving the quality of life for our residents. We’re able to accomplish all of this because our community is filled with honest, hard-working people, committed to conservative principles.”
The mayor will host public meetings to allow residents to answer questions and learn more about his proposal.
- Karns Senior Center, 8042 Oak Ridge Highway, 11:30 a.m.
- Cedar Bluff Library, 9045 Cross Park Drive, 1:30 p.m.
- Bearden Library, 100 Golfclub Road, 2:30 p.m.
- Halls Senior Center, 4405 Crippen Road, 3:30 p.m.
- Fountain City Library, 5300 Stanton Road, 4:30 p.m.
- South Senior Center, 6729 Martel Lane, 11 a.m.
- Strang Senior Center, 109 Lovell Heights Road, noon
- Corryton Senior Center, 9331 Davis Drive, 2 p.m.
- Carter Senior Center, 9036 Asheville Highway, 3 p.m.
- Burlington Library, 4614 Asheville Highway, 4 p.m.
- Powell Library, 330 W. Emory Road, 5 p.m.