No tax increase; no job cuts in mayor's new proposed budget - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

No tax increase; no job cuts in mayor's new proposed budget

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The Chattanooga City Council got its first look at Mayor Andy Berke's budget proposal Tuesday.

Berke told Channel 3 in a live interview Wednesday morning there will be no tax increases and no job cuts.

"We're not cutting any jobs," Berke said. "What we're doing is freezing positions when necessary. So if somebody leaves, to make sure that we can do all of our priorities, we are just not filling that position back."

Berke was dealt more expenditures than revenue growth when putting together his new city budget. The $221 million proposal is $4 million more than the current year.

"It's been prepared with increased costs and we've managed, been able to fund everything that we started in the past, add some new initiatives that matter to citizens, increase their services, and do all this with no tax increase," said City COO Brent Goldberg.

The budget will also include a raise for most city employees with a higher percentage increase to those who make the least.

The mayor's office is looking to modernize technology for officers with a limited number of body-cams, new in-car cameras, computers, GPS and digital radios. Is approved, the police department would get 50 body cams to employ in a test phase as they get used to the technology

"Part of our real issue is things like data storage because the cameras, putting them on, that's the easy part. All that information that you accumulate, how do you store it? How do you pay for that? How do you review it?"

The budget also allocates money for a new special victim's unit and focus on domestic violence.

"Reality is, there are some nexus between domestic violence and the other violence and Chattanooga and we want everyone to be and feel safe regardless of where they live or the source of the violence," said Police Chief Fred Fletcher.

Included, too, would be more than one million dollars for improvements at community centers.

"I'm really excited about the youth and family part of the budget," said Dist. 7 Councilman Chris Anderson. "We need a lot of repairs at South Chattanooga and a few others of my centers and we're going to get them."

The administration also boasts an 80 percent increase in street paving funds since 2013, money for expansion at VW and states Chattanooga is poised for even more growth.

First vote on the budget comes next month and the fiscal year 2016 begins this July 1.


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