Jacobs' First Budget Plan Includes New Schools

May 1, 2019

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Knox County Glenn Jacobs' FY 2020 budget plan dedicates money to the development of three new elementary schools without raising taxes.

The proposal meeting was held in the Central High School auditorium where Jacobs gave a brief overview. The full proposal is available online.

This is Jacobs’ first budget proposal as mayor of Knox County, and in his announcement Wednesday he said focus areas include “a commitment to keeping taxes low, continuing to attract new jobs to our area, a renewed focus on the quality of education, infrastructure, working to create safer communities, full transparency, and a fresh outlook on limited government.”

Jacobs said his primary point of concern is economic development, so Knoxville can remain attractive to the private sector to provide quality jobs for citizens of Knox County.

The budget outlines the beginning of a 5-year Capital Improvement Plan that is meant to invest $214 million dollars into county and school infrastructure. The plan outlines funding to build new buildings for Lonsdale and Adrian Burnett Elementary schools to replace outdated facilities. It also provides funding for a brand-new elementary school in northwest Knox County and additions to Brickey-McCloud and Sterchi elementary schools.

The capital improvement plan includes $13.6 million to Engineering and Public Works for infrastructure projects that include safety improvements to problematic roads and intersections in the county. That money is also meant to be used for projects to expand infrastructure to keep up with expected growth in the coming years.

Jacob’s budget proposal includes and overall increase of $34 million dollars from last year’s budget. This increase is funded by economic growth predicted by state and federal projections. Jacobs also mentioned the county’s voluntary workforce reduction program as savings source. The program offers incentives for eligible county employees to step down from their positions with the goal of lowering personnel costs.

Knox County's general fund budget will see a 5.1% increase from 2019. This increase would provide $4.2 million dollars for employee raises and $2 million for benefit costs. The general budget also includes a $124,000 increase in Women’s Health Services.

Jacob’s suggested that the Knox County school board’s budget plan be approved. The board's proposal expands school funding by $4.4 million dollars that will go towards raising system employee salaries by 3.5%. $750,000 dollars will go towards a childhood literacy pilot program proposed by county school superintendent Bob Thomas. The program includes providing focused literacy training for teachers and extended library funding.

Jacobs' proposal must be approved by the County Commission. The new fiscal year begins July 1.

This story was reported by WUOT Student Assistant Levi Johnson.