The city plans to spend almost $29 million in city and federal dollars in the upcoming fiscal year, officials said during a budget presentation to the City Council on Tuesday afternoon. The spending will include major repairs to storm-damaged Elder Mountain Road, Lake Resort Drive and Hamill Road.
City of Chattanooga Chief Operating Officer Maura Black Sullivan and Chief Financial Officer, Daisy Madison, presented highlights of the $263.8 million budget, which is a 1.15 percent increase from the current year’s budget.
The proposed property tax rate remains the same at $2.227.
It includes a 2.5 percent raise for civilian city employees and full funding of the career ladder for sworn employees.
Over 51 percent of the budget is for Safe Streets" and includes more cameras for use by police.
“The investments called for in this budget reflect the priorities that citizens told us they valued,” said Mayor Andy Berke. “This proposed budget will allow us to do more to expand affordable housing options, childcare, public transportation, and workforce development, all of which are critical rungs on the ladder of economic mobility. In addition to continuing to support a crime-reduction strategy that helps young people avoid contact with the justice system while helping those who have paid their debts to society safely return to our community.
“And we can do all of this without raising taxes for Chattanoogans.”
He added, “This budget shows that we can be fiscally responsible while still moving Chattanooga forward. As local governments continue to see cuts from the federal and state government, we’re having to be more strategic and creative in how we continue to deliver the services Chattanoogans have come to expect.”
This was the fifth budget the city prepared using the Budgeting for Outcomes method, "which invites the public to provide input and collaboration to ensure that the city is using taxpayer dollars wisely."
The administration’s proposed budget funds new staff to continue efforts to end homelessness in Chattanooga and supports 1,000 new jobs with the latest Volkswagen expansion.
New initiatives include expanding recycling services citywide, collaborating with the regional cities and counties "to make sure that we are fully prepared to respond to and recover from natural disasters," and enhancing the economic mobility for all Chattanoogans.
The budget includes $195 million in capital projects.
The Chattanooga City Council will hold budget hearings each Tuesday beginning next Tuesday at 10 a.m. in the City Council conference room. The schedule is listed here.
Mayor Berke said, "The city of Chattanooga's Operating and Capital budgets for Fiscal Year 2020 were crafted through months of public input and citizen engagement, from Chattanoogans of all ages and backgrounds, representing every part of town. I'm proud today to present these plans to the Chattanooga City Council and post them online at budget.chattanooga.gov, where I invite you to explore them.
"While our city continues to evolve, our priorities remain consistent: delivering results that keep our streets safe, our neighborhoods and families strong, and our economy growing for everyone, powered by an efficient and high-performing government. The investments called for in this budget reflect these priorities:
- We will invest almost $29 million -- an unprecedented amount -- into repairing streets and roads throughout Chattanooga.
- We will do more to expand affordable housing options, childcare, public transportation, and workforce development, all of which are critical rungs on the ladder of economic mobility.
- We will work collaboratively with the cities and counties with whom we share a regional destiny, to make sure that we are fully prepared to respond to and recover from natural disasters.
- We will continue to support a crime-reduction strategy that helps young people avoid contact with the justice system while helping those who have paid their debts to society safely return to our community.
- We can sustain the momentum of our nationally-recognized efforts for early childhood learning and continue the critical work of ending homelessness once and for all."
The Fiscal Year 2020 budget is available for public viewing at budget.chattanooga.gov.