The Environmental Journal of Southern Appalachia

Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon’s budget calls for $30m in environmental-improvement measures

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kincannonmariemyers   

Mayor wants green for green; some otherwise supportive city residents already aren’t pleased with some initiatives.

Mayor Indya Kincannon’s proposed Knoxville 2020-2021 budget commits some $30 million to reduce city climate impacts, expand its use of renewable energy, invest in urban forest preservation and outdoor recreation assets and improve bus and bicycle travel in communities across the city. The budget also provides money for revitalization of the Burlington District, a historic pedestrian center of Black commerce in East Knoxville.

The city’s net budget is $384 million, which includes a $253 million operating fund.

The budget is just a recommendation to City Council at this point. 

Some of the city’s previously announced “walkability’ and traffic-calming proposals and pedestrian-improvement measures, at least, have not been met with open arms by some in the communities for which they are planned, especially in the century-old neighborhoods along the South Knoxville waterfront. Hellbender Press plans a report on those concerns, but here’s an initial sketch of the more environmentally focused budget measures, which were released Tuesday morning. 

The proposed city budget, according to a news release from the mayor’s office:

Provides $15.3 million in direct city support for Knoxville Area Transit (KAT), including $1.2 million for matching grants to continue converting the fleet to all-electric buses

Allots $150,000 for additional public electric vehicle charging stations and for charging infrastructure for the city’s vehicle fleet. 

Commits $4 million to stormwater infrastructure and $721,000 to protect and expand Knoxville’s urban forest, both critical programs for resilience and a healthy environment. 

Supports the Knoxville Convention Center’s enrollment into the KUB/TVA Green Switch Match program, which will provide 100 percent renewable electricity to the facility.  

Partners with KUB to support a community solar project at the City’s Public Works Service Center.

“Knoxville is now the top city in the Southeast for investing in solar power, thanks to the TVA/KUB Green Invest program,” Kincannon said in the release. 

The budget also allots:

$2 million for streetscape improvements in the Burlington District inspired by the Burlington Enhancement Plan.

$1.5 million for the next phase of Waterfront Drive connectivity upgrades on the South Waterfront. 

$2.26 million for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure and major multimodal upgrades on Liberty Street and Washington Pike.

$250,000 for neighborhood traffic-calming. 

$750,000 dedicated to arts, culture and historic preservation.

The mayor’s proposed budget will be presented for first reading at City Council on May 4, followed by legislative budget hearings May 13 and 14 and a public hearing at 5 p.m. May 14. Council’s second reading of the budget is scheduled for May 18. 

unspecified3The proposed 2020-2021 city budget calls for $2 million to revitalize the historic Burlington business district in East Knoxville.
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