The Knoxville City Council approved its 2020-21 budget at its most recent regular meeting. The levy will be around $18.52 per $1,000 of taxable valuation.
Built into this year’s budget is an increase in costs for taking stray animals to the Marion County Humane Society. The Knoxville Police Department included an additional $20,000 for these costs for the next fiscal year.
New regulations that must be met by the MCHS have arisen and increased operational costs. This is also the first increase in the fees assessed to the City in the shelter’s history. A two-year agreement between the City and MCHS, which is set to include an annual 2 percent increase in fees, was not yet approved. This was tabled until the next regular council meeting. Regardless of the adoption of the new plan, Police Chief Dan Losada said the process will remain the same. Animals will still be taken to the shelter, where they will remain until adopted or claimed by the owner.
In other council business, preliminary plans are being developed for a new culvert on Competine Creek. The engineer’s estimate for this project is $500,000. City Manager Aaron Adams said this project must be done, as the culvert on Roche Street is the only way residents in the area have access to their homes.
Costs of the project will come from the City’s stormwater utility. This utility has been in existence for four years and allowed the City to stockpile funds for critical projects such as this, without having further impact on taxpayers. Critical infrastructure is now being addressed with the funds collected.
Prior to the regular council meeting, priorities were discussed among the members. One of the priorities is addressing Edwards Park. Edwards Park does not serve many Knoxville residents, but it has a body of water included with a dam. Council is discussing whether i should pay for repairs to the dam or let the water return to its natural state as a stream. Adams wants residents who live near the park to have a stake in the future of the park and not create a significant issue with the park.
A master plan is in development for the future of Auld Park. Adams believes a master plan is a good idea, as the recent completion of improvements at Young’s Park began with a plan written in 2015.
Long-term parks goals include a sports park, but the council did not give staff much direction. The City’s trail system will keep moving forward, as a contract for the next phase of the trail has already been approved.