BLOUNTVILLE — When it comes to the bottom line on revenue from sales taxes in Sullivan County, business in Kingsport continues to lead in growth. According to the latest monthly report from Sullivan County’s budget office, revenues as a countywide total increased 4.22 percent in February compared to the same month a year ago — despite a downturn in Bristol and year-to-date lagging in non-city areas.
February sales tax revenue, which actually represents December collections, totaled more than $6.2 million, an increase of about $251,000 over February of last year.
Sales tax revenue generated within the city of Kingsport accounted for nearly $221,000 of that growth, while sales tax revenue generated in non-city portions of the county accounted for nearly $32,000 in growth.
Sales Taxes 101
Sales tax revenues come back to the localities two months after they are collected by local merchants. December sales tax collections, for example, came back as revenue to Sullivan County, Kingsport, Bristol, Bluff City and Johnson City — as well as to the three school systems in the county — in February.
Sales tax revenues are generated when money is spent on goods and services at businesses throughout the county and its cities.
Locally, cities and counties fund most of their services through a combination of property and sales taxes. Strong sales tax growth helps keep property taxes low.
When a consumer pays sales tax locally, that money is sent to the state, which takes a small cut and redistributes it to the county and its cities based on the collection site.
Local option sales tax revenues are split 50/50 — with half going to school systems in the county and the other half going to the local government where the collecting business is located.
Every dollar of local option sales taxes collected in Kingsport, for example, generates 50 cents for the county’s three school systems (the money is split based on average daily attendance) and 50 cents for city coffers.
Since the fiscal year began seven months ago, sales tax revenue outside the cities has seen an overall drop of more than $184,000 compared to the same seven-month period a year prior. And in Bristol, sales tax revenue for the month was down nearly $32,000 compared to February 2017 — and down more than $156,000 for the seven-month period since the fiscal year began. For the seven-month period, the sales tax revenue generated in Kingsport is up more than $734,000.
The countywide total for the seven-month period is more than $33.88 million. Nearly $21 million of that amount was generated in Kingsport. About $8.13 million was generated in Bristol. And $4.02 million was generated in non-city sections of the county. About $400,000 was generated by businesses inside the portion of Johnson City within Sullivan County, and another $340,000 was generated by businesses in Bluff City.
Businesses inside the city of Bristol generated $1.47 million of February’s $6.2 million countywide total, while nearly $3.99 million of that total was generated by businesses inside Kingsport. About $712,000 came from businesses in non-city portions of the county. About $70,000 came from the Johnson City area of the county and $48,000 came from businesses in Bluff City.
Where did the seven-month’s total of $33.88 million in revenue go?
According to the accounting office’s report (some numbers rounded):
• The city of Kingsport’s non-school share of taxes totals about $10.5 million, an increase of $367,000 compared to a year ago.
• The Kingsport school system’s share is $5.61 million, an increase of $288,0000 compared to a year ago.
• The city of Bristol’s non-school share totals nearly $4.07 million, a decrease of $78,000 compared to a year ago.
• The Bristol school system’s share totals $3.3 million, an increase of $3,000 compared to a year ago.
• Sullivan County’s non-school portion of sales taxes totals $2.01 million, a decrease of $92,000 compared to a year ago.
• The Sullivan County school system’s share is $8.02 million, a decrease of about $11,000 compared to a year ago.
• Bluff City’s share totals $170,000, an increase of about $67,000 compared to a year ago.
• Johnson City’s share totals about $196,000, an increase of $16,000 compared to a year ago.