Few surprises in Jacobs’ first budget

Sandra ClarkGossip and Lies

Surprises in Mayor Glenn Jacobs’ 2020 budget?

  • A 6 percent raise for deputies (three steps plus 2 percent) in the Sheriff’s Office. This is huge, long overdue and fulfills a major campaign promise of Sheriff Tom Spangler.
  • No money to build jail cells over five years. Unrealistic.
  • Modest differences with Tim Burchett’s last budget.

No surprise:

  • No property tax increase – rate stays at $2.12 per $100 of assessed value.
  • Scrimping on capital outlay for Parks & Rec.
  • North and northwest skew of capital projects.

Cheers: Funding for three new elementary schools: Lonsdale ($19 million, 2021), Adrian Burnett ($19 million, 2022) and northwest Knox County ($22 million, 2022); also, additions to Brickey-McCloud (200 students, $3 million, 2021) and Sterchi (250 students, $7 million, 2024); Halls High renovations ($1 million, 2021).

Jeers: Parks & Rec budgeted for $200,000/year in capital spending – just $1 million over five years. This budget does not allow for any new projects; just playground equipment and facility maintenance.

Cheers: The Schaad Road extension inches ahead with $13 million over five years in the capital budget.

Jeers: Jacobs proposed $1.6 million, an increase of $400,000 over Burchett’s 2019 budget, for defined services. This includes a lot of nonprofits that provide valuable services. But the lion’s share of Jacobs’ proposal ($1.15 million) is labeled economic development: Blount Partnership, $30,000; The Development Corporation, $730,500; Farragut West Knox Chamber, $50,000; Knoxville Chamber, $140,000; and Innovation Valley, $200,000.

Modest cheer: That Innovation Valley gift was halved. Burchett gave the group $400,000 in 2019.

Two Powell projects caught my eye, so a request for more information went off to Mayor Jacobs:

Powell School improvements. Burchett had Powell High cafeteria upgrades, $3 million, and Powell Middle cafeteria/kitchen completion, $1.5 million, in his 2019 capital budget. Those projects have not been done. Will these projects be completed?

Brickyard Road/W. Beaver Creek Road project. Again, Burchett had $750,000 for this project in his 2019 capital budget; Mayor Jacobs also has $750,000 for this project in his 2020 proposal. Does this mean the county will spend $1.5 million on this project?

Find Tim Burchett’s 2019 budget here.

Find Glenn Jacobs’ proposed 2020 budget here.

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