New Berke Budget Allocates Over 45% To "Making Streets Safer"; Budget Includes $950,000 To Fix "Broken" Police Pay Plan

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The first full budget from the administration of Mayor Andy Berke does not include a tax increase and  allocates over 45 percent "to make the streets safer." It includes $950,000 to begin fixing the "broken" city police pay plan.

City spending will rise from $212,540,000 to $216,850,000.  

There will be a 1.5 percent pay increase for non-sworn employees.

The budget includes $600,000 for a newly created Department of Economic Development that will implement a Growing Small Businesses initiative. It funds a Family Justice Center to help victims of domestic abuse.

The budget funds a Chattanooga Baby College that will prepare expectant mothers and fathers to be great parents and a child’s first teacher. The initiative will identify at-risk pregnant women and provide them with the information and skills they need to ensure their children enter school ready to learn so kids in Chattanooga are not starting off behind, officials said.

The budget funds a partnership with La Paz to create a Hispanic family resource center that will provide family violence prevention, prenatal care, and nutritional resources to Chattanooga’s growing Hispanic community. 

There is funding for a new CARTA bus route to the Enterprise South Industrial Park.

The budget pays for a new Chattadata program that will provide data to administrators and citizens about how the city is doing on reaching its departmental goals, including in the area of public safety. There will be one employee. The program starts in September and will be online.  

Mayor Berke said the FY2015 budget, to be presented to City Council this afternoon, "reflects a government relentlessly focused on the priorities of its residents; safer streets, stronger neighborhoods, growing economy, smarter students and stronger families and a high performing government. These priorities have been elevated with an eye toward effectiveness.

“Through a new budgeting approach, implemented city-wide for the first time, each dollar must be justified based on how it delivers results to our constituents. Because of this focus on efficiency we are able to deliver increased services without a tax increase.”

He said, "The budget reflects a strong focus on public safety – over 45 percent of the total general fund budget is spent on making Chattanooga’s streets safer. This includes initiatives to both respond to crimes and work to prevent young people from becoming involved in criminal activity. In addition, funding has been allocated to fix the broken police pay structure – which has been the subject of multiple lawsuits. The administration is in ongoing discussions with department leadership and employee groups to reach a solution that provides consistency and ensures pay increases are fairly allocated going forward."

The budget includes creating an initiative to end chronic veterans’ homelessness.

Mayor Berke said, “First and foremost, we have a duty to help those who have fought for our freedom. This budget helps us take the first step toward our goal to eliminate chronic homelessness for veterans by the end of 2016.”.

He said, “I am proud of the dedication city employees’ show each day to perform these tasks and many, many more. Whether it is delivering essential services or innovative policy solutions, city government is more attentive than ever to enhancing quality of life for our citizens. Over the next year, I look forward to seeing city government work with the private sector, non-profits, churches and families to build the best mid-size city in America.

"To make Chattanooga’s streets safer, this budget allocates needed funds to implement smart policing strategies, effective prevention programs for our youth, and high quality response.

Total funded: $101,096,324.00 | Total requested: $113,243,532.00 | Total number of offers funded: 19

 The budget maintains funding for 486 sworn personnel in the Police Department – an all-time high from the previous budget which he said allows the department to implement more community-based policing models and backfill investigative positions.

Mayor Berke said, "The administration will partner with area agencies to provide more comprehensive services for young men and women who want to turn their lives around through the Chattanooga Violence Reduction Initiative (VRI).

·         "The administration has been in ongoing discussions with the leaders of the Police Department and the employee representatives to fix the broken police pay scale. The current structure has left the city vulnerable to numerous lawsuits and is in desperate need of repair. This budget allocates $950,000 to fix the broken system so the department can ensure consistency and fairness in the allocation of raises to sworn officers.

·         "The budget also maintains several key public safety initiatives from the previous year, including funding for a family justice center and federal prosecutor focused solely on crimes occurring within city limits."

Under the budget, for small businesses with less than 100 employees, who make a substantial increase to their workforce and sustain that growth for a year or more, the City will provide a $500 cash grant per employee.

·          To grow Chattanooga’s minority, veteran and women-owned businesses, the city will partner with the Chamber, the Urban League, and LAUNCH to establish the Chattanooga Alliance for Diverse Business Enterprises. The mayor said, "This is an unprecedented collaboration between multiple agencies to strengthen diverse businesses in Chattanooga."

·    The budget dedicates resources to partner with local agencies to help more young people fill out their FAFSA form to apply for financial aid.

·The budget allocates $2.3 million for paving and street maintenance.

·      It includes a new contract with Orange Grove Center "that will increase our curbside recycling participation and increase the revenue generated to the city based on the sale of the recycled commodity. This will divert additional waste from our landfill, while maintaining the important job training function provided by the Orange Grove Center."

      The budget absorbs most of the increase in health costs ($1.4 million) with a minimal increase in employee premiums (average increase of $3 per month), it was stated.

·       The city has budgeted $616,00 to replaces current street lights with LED lights as they go out.

·         This budget continues compliance with the EPA consent, including the previously scheduled 9.8 percent raise in stormwater fees.

·         In addition to the performance metrics being tracked from the previous pilot of Budgeting for Outcomes, the Office of Performance Management will establish long term goals, data points, and tools for public engagement, it was stated.

The budget was prepared using a process called Budgeting for Outcomes (BFO).

Officials said, "Budgeting for Outcomes is an approach based on collaboration, transparency, and delivering the services that matter most to citizens. Traditional budgeting typically starts with using the prior year budget as a baseline and determining increases or decreases to develop a new budget. It is an incremental process that does little to foster innovation.

"BFO starts with a set of results and requires city administrators to work collaboratively to achieve the outcomes while also providing essential services to citizens in a cost-effective and efficient manner. Rather than submitting department-wide proposals focused on total expenditures, departments and agencies must submit “offers” to explain how they can achieve the best results that matter to citizens for the lowest cost and explain what performance measures they will use to demonstrate success. Like performance budgeting, BFO focuses on what the public receives, how much it costs, and how outcomes will be measured. Budgeting for Outcomes, which has been named a “recommended practice” by the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA), starts with the results citizens want from their city government and works to align those priorities with the budget decision-making process."

Click here to read the budget summary.


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