published Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Chattanooga Mayor Berke wants to add 40 police officers, 1.5 percent pay raises for employees

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke is focused on the city's new budget.
Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke is focused on the city's new budget.
Photo by Shawn Paik /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
Proposed 2014 Chattanooga City Budget
Proposed 2014 Chattanooga City Budget
Tweets from Joy Lukachick

-- City will give less money to social services in the community, Kean said its only a slight decrease.

-- Police department is getting $54 million. Last year's budget was $56 million but Kean said they only spent $54 million.

-- The city has $7 million to spend on the Mayor's four initiatives. Half that money is going to public safety.

-- Kean says stormwater fees will go up for residents by 9.8 percent.

-- "We've chosen a conservative approach," Kean said. The city projects a less than 1 percent revenue increase.

-- Kean now explaining where the money comes from. More than half comes from property taxes.

-- "We challenged every assumption about the way government has always done things," Kean said.

-- Residents will be able to go online to pay their taxes.

-- Kean said the Mayor's office has cut 14 percent of their own budget.

-- City will pilot a project to turn vacant and unproductive lots into affordable housing, Kean said.

-- City will buy the former Harriet Tubman housing.

-- City will fund a job-training program and recreation centers will continue to use those centers to teach kids to read

-- City will fund a ful-ltime federal prosector to prosecute crimes in Chattanooga

-- With that Berke left and Chief Operating Officer Andrew Kean will do a budget presentation for the council.

-- I want results, I expect results," Berke said.

-- : Berke wants to add 40 officers and starting a pilot program to turn vacant lots into affordable housing.

-- First department wide raise in five years the Mayor said.

-- First department wide 1.5 raise has been announced for all sworn officers.

-- Councilman Moses Freeman said he wanting to interrupt the Mayor to give him a round of applauds.

-- Budget overview started. Berke: "This budget takes bold dramatic action to make sure everyone feels safer."

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke, who identified public safety as a top priority during his campaign and early days in office, wants to put 40 new police officers on city streets this year, according to his proposed 2014 budget.

"We aren't where we should be on public safety," Berke said this afternoon during a budget presentation to City Council members. "We need to get there by the beginning of [calendar year] 2014. This budget takes bold dramatic action to make sure everyone feels safer."

He also has budgeted 1.5 percent pay raises for employees and police. The pay increase is the first city-wide pay hike in five years, the mayor said.

The $212 million operating budget holds the line on city property tax rates.

The city also will buy the vacant Harriet Tubman housing development, a Chattanooga Housing Authority property. The purchase would be part of an effort to convert vacant properties into affordable housing options.

Adding police officers to the current roll of about 440 will bring the department to its highest level of sworn officers in the city's history, he said.

In addition, the mayor wants to pay for a full-time federal prosecutor who will focus on the most serious violent offenders and help get them off city streets.

"I want results. I expect results," Berke told City Council members.

Berke also is allocating money to improve fire apparatus technology to help keep firefighters safe.

The mayor said his budget reflects his priorities of improving public safety, fostering stronger neighborhoods and economic development, and helping students and their families and providing innovative, effective and efficient government.

Stay with the Times Free Press for more detail this afternoon

about Joy Lukachick Smith...

Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...

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