Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, May 18, 2018

Mayor presents fiscal 2019 budgets

Mayor Andy Berke has unveiled his proposed general operating and capital improvement plan budgets for the City of Chattanooga’s 2019 fiscal year. The general operating budget totals $262,020,000, a 3.39 percent increase over the previous year’s budget. It is joined by a $152,800,000 CIP budget.

Highlights in this year’s proposed budgets include:

n Six million dollars for street paving and public infrastructure, surpassing the record levels of funding provided for this in last year’s budget.

n More than $1.8 million for the expansion and improvement of early childhood initiatives, including expansion of the Baby University program and new training support for childcare providers.

n One million dollars 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.

n 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.

n Advancing the Chattanooga Innovation District by activating public spaces and reimagining several city-owned properties in the district.

n Reviving a summer jobs program in the Department of Public Works that will employ young people when they are out of school.

n Fully funding the Victim Services Unit to help families and neighborhoods heal after incidents of crime.

n Maintaining full staffing levels at the Chattanooga Fire Department, ensuring their ability to respond rapidly to emergencies and maintain their ISO rating of one.

n Replacements for computers and technology at Youth & Family Development Centers throughout Chattanooga.

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 identified, city departments and local nonprofit agencies submit “offers” to city leaders detailing how they intend to 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.

“While our economy is healthy, we need to make strategic investments in developing more segments of our workforce. We must also redouble our efforts to support and serve children in high-risk ZIP codes,” Berke says.

“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.”

The City of Chattanooga’s fiscal year begins on July 1, which will require the City Council to approve a spending plan by June 30. According to the council’s budget chairwoman, Carol Berz, education sessions regarding the details of the mayor’s budget will begin May 22.

Source: Office of Mayor Berke