The Berke administration on Tuesday unveiled a balanced budget that includes a 2.5 percent pay increase for civilian city employees and $6 million for street paving and public infrastructure.
The budget, presented to the City Council by Maura Sullivan, chief operating officer, and Daisy Madison, chief financial officer, includes a $262,020,000 budget, which is a 3.39 percent increase over the previous year’s budget.
The capital improvement budget is $152.8 million.
There is a six percent rate increase related to the sanity sewer rate increase in FY19 - also know as the Interceptor Sewer System. That rate increase for the ISS is down from the 9.8 percent previously scheduled, it was stated. These dollars are necessary to maintain compliance with the Federal Consent Decree.
A stormwater rate increase, as part of the Water Quality Fund, is what is currently in front of the Stormwater Board. This fund is used to comply with federal regulations requiring the city to manage stormwater runoff.
Officials said the state IMPROVE by cutting the sales tax on food and eliminating the Hall Income Tax means a loss for the city of $5.3 million over three years.
There will be funding for a comprehensive pay study.
Budget highlights include:
More than $1.8 million for the expansion and improvement of early childhood initiatives, including expansion of our landmark Baby University program and new training support for childcare providers.
$1 million to capitalize an Affordable Housing Trust Fund -- the first in Chattanooga’s history -- that will be used to supplement federal funding, various tax incentives, and special grants utilized by local government and its private sector partners to promote affordable, high-quality housing.
Funding to address homelessness in Chattanooga, including support of nonprofit partners like Chattanooga Regional Homeless Coalition and Family Promise, as well as funding for a new Interagency Council on Homelessness to coordinate and focus housing strategies.
Advancing the Chattanooga Innovation District by activating our public spaces and reimagining several several city-owned properties in the district.
Reviving a summer jobs program in the Department of Public Works that will gainfully and meaningfully employ young people when they are out of school and otherwise unprogrammed.
Fully funding the Victim Services Unit to help families and neighborhoods heal after incidents of crime.
Maintaining full staffing levels at the Chattanooga Fire Department, ensuring their ability to respond rapidly to emergencies and maintain their ISO rating of 1. That includes picking up the costs of 14 firefighters who have been funded by federal grants that are running out.
Replacements for computers and technology at Youth & Family Development Centers throughout Chattanooga.
Mayor Berke said, "Chattanooga is a city of creators, and in many ways, the city that we are creating is stronger than ever. We see these results in many ways every day. Our population is growing steadily. We are enjoying historic lows in poverty and unemployment. We’re creating jobs twice as fast as the national economy. Criminal activity is declining steadily. Of course, this is not time to declare victory. Our city faces some big decisions about how we can best build on this momentum. The budgets we present today confront those decisions and chart a bold course forward for Chattanooga.
“Based on what we heard from the people of Chattanooga, this budget directs where we should focus tax dollars to sustain our progress and achieve the results that citizens demand and expect. While our economy is healthy, we should make strategic investments in developing more segments of our workforce. We must redouble our efforts to support and serve children in high-risk ZIP codes who deserve every opportunity to live lives of health, happiness, and success. We can do these things while continuing our investments in public safety, growing our innovation economy, beautifying our parks and public spaces, and improving our streets and sidewalks. Importantly, we can make these investments without increasing the tax burden on our residents and small business-owners.”
City officials said, "As in years past, the budgets were crafted through months of public engagement and collaboration with the community through a process called Budgeting For Outcomes. After a core set of community priorities are decided, city departments and local nonprofit agencies submit “offers” to city leaders detailing how they intend to efficiently and effectively achieve the required results. Offers are reviewed and ranked by teams comprised of city staff, budget analysts, and community members before the administration makes funding decisions about each."
The City of Chattanooga’s fiscal year begins on July 1, necessitating the City Council to approve a spending plan by June 30. Education sessions regarding the details of the mayor's budget will begin next Tuesday. The sessions start at 10 a.m. in the J.B. Collins Room near the City Council meeting room.
There will be a public hearing on the city budget on June 12 at 6 p.m. in the council meeting room. The regular meeting of the council will start at 5:30 p.m. that night.
The full budget is here and Tuesday's presentation is here under "Additional Information & Questions."
Additionally, the presentation was streamed on the City's YouTube channel and should be up later Tuesday or on Wednesday, officials said.