Mayor Berke: 100 day mark holds us accountable - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Mayor Berke: 100 day mark holds us accountable

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

It has been 100 days since Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke took office. He is reflecting on the changes he has made so far and his future goals for the city.

Berke says since the day he was sworn in, his focus has been, and remains, on cutting waste and addressing what he considers the city's top priorities: public safety, youth and family development, along with economic and community development.

"The 100 day mark is a great time for us to hold ourselves accountable," says Berke.

Berke says a lot has changed since he took office April 15th.

"We're transforming government into a place that values results," he says.

One of his top priorities is public safety, an issue he continues to tackle head-on.

"We didn't get into this problem overnight. We're not going to solve it overnight," says Berke.

On top of creating a public safety council and appointing a public safety coordinator, his administration is working on rolling out the 'High Point Initiative' by the beginning of next year. It is modeled after a program in High Point, North Carolina to reduce crime.

"You essentially make an example of a group of gang members. You do that by taking them to federal court, where the penalties are a lot stiffer."

Berke is also focused on outreach to younger generations, with the creation of the Youth and Development department, taking advantage of well-placed rec centers in the city.

"Let's use those in the best way possible. That means not just rolling out the basketballs and making our fields available, it means putting the 'Lexia' program in those areas, so that people can learn to read better," he says.

Berke says fostering local talent, will lead to economic growth. He says since he has been in office, 917 new jobs have already been created.

But his latest focus is creating a new city budget.

"I hate waste. Every dollar that's misspent, that's used without any thought, it really bothers me to the core because I know that we can actually do something with those dollars," says Berke.

He wants money directed toward those top priorities.     

"What we did was we asked all the administrators to cut things that they didn't think was necessary. And then we said, give us your best proposals and ideas, and we're going to fund them based on how effective they are in the priority areas, not just because we did something last year," says Berke.

His administration points out, the immediate changes he made of cutting certain departments and creating new ones saved $370,000.

Berke is presenting his new budget the city council next week so it can review it. As soon as it is made public, we will let you know what it entails.

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