Berke's budget: more police, pay raises - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Berke's budget: more police, pay raises

Updated: Jul 31, 2013 / 2:52 PM EDT
Chattanooga City Hall. File photo by Times Free Press Chattanooga City Hall. File photo by Times Free Press

"When I ran for office, I vowed to transform city government into a place that is relentlessly focused on providing measurable results for Chattanooga," said Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke.

Mayor Berke presented his budget proposal to city council Wednesday, saying he is increasing funding for key priorities, all without an increase in taxes.

"I don't think you've ever seen a budget focused on public safety the way this one is," said Berke.

A major standout in his proposal is a 1.5 percent pay raise for all city employees. which includes police and fire personnel.

"We've included the first pay raise for all sworn personnel since 2008," said Berke.

More officers will also be hitting the streets. Forty new officers will be joining the force, bringing it to an all time high staffing level of 486 sworn personnel.

"A couple of things that really stood out was the additional officers that we're going to have coming on board and there's going to be a suppression unit within those officers," said City Council Chairman Yusuf Hakeem.

Hakeem says overall he is excited for the proposal, which also includes no raise on the property tax.

"As we get into the details, we're going to see that it's more people oriented that maybe it has been in recent years," said Hakeem.

"Overall, I expect the council to be supportive of the budget," said Berke.

READ MORE | The 2014 Chattanooga City Budget Summary

Delayed a day by Tuesday's visit from President Obama, Berke's budget supports his initiatives of:

  • Safer Streets
  • Stronger Neighborhoods
  • Smarter Students
  • Sounder City Government

Some highlights from the budget proposal include:

  • No increase in property taxes
  • Adding 40 new police officers, bringing the total to 486 sworn officers on the streets.
  • Funding support to implement the High Point Initiative, named after the innovative program in North Carolina credited with a 57% decrease in violent crimes
  • A raise of 1.5% for Chattanooga City employees, as well as Police and Fire Department employees
  • A 9.8% increase in sewer rates
  • Lower taxes for Chattanooga residents, an average decrease of 0.17%
  • Purchase the former Harriet Tubman Housing Project, over 35 acres in size, for the purpose of economic development, pending offer acceptance.
  • Software system to allow citizens to pay their property taxes online
  • New equipment, utilizing GPS technology for the Chattanooga Fire Department


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