Commission OKs $819M budget to fund Project Grad, magnet schools

@ # State

The Knox County Commission voted unanimously on Friday to approve Mayor Tim Burchett's $819 million budget for Fiscal Year 2019, moving forward without any tax increase and fully funding Project Grad and magnet schools.

In a meeting that only took about five minutes, the commissioners voted 10-0 on the proposal. County Commissioner Charles Busler was not present.

The commission also approved a five-year capital improvement plan for countywide projects such as public libraries, parks and recreation, building improvements and maintenance, engineering and public works, Knox County Schools and other equipment needed to complete these projects.

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett presented the Fiscal Year 2019 budget proposal to the Knox County Commission Monday morning. The presentation was held in the Main Assembly Room of the City County Building on Main Street.

Mayor Burchett's budget comes in 2.6 percent higher than last year's budget.

“Some people will tell you that not raising taxes is the easy thing to do, but families across our community will tell you the difficult thing to do is to stretch a dollar,"
Burchett said in May.
"The truth is, doing more with less and not raising taxes is the harder approach.”

During his final budget address May 7, Burchett said the county has reduced debt by $45 million since he took office seven years ago. He said school funding has been increased by more than $13 million.

The mayor's suggestion that Knox County and Knox County Schools split the budget to bridge the $1.3 million gap to fund the remaining budget on Project GRAD and magnet schools will go into effect. It's a one time deal, and officials plan to evaluate the program efficacy to determine the continuation of funding.