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Sullivan County sales tax revenues still slumping

J. H. Osborne • May 24, 2008 at 12:00 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — Not even spring race weekend could pull countywide sales tax revenues out of a fiscal year slump, according to a report released this week by Sullivan County’s budget office.

Cumulatively, sales tax revenues in Sullivan County are running about $661,000 below last year at this point, according to that report.

Hardest hit appears to be the Kingsport city area, where sales tax revenues are about $862,322 below last year at this point.

A 10-month spreadsheet by the budget office shows sales tax revenues from March this year, countywide, came in nearly $394,000 below March 2007.

It’s the seventh time this fiscal year that monthly sales tax revenues fell short of the same month last fiscal year.

Sales tax revenues are generated when money is spent on goods and services at businesses throughout the county and its cities. The money is used by local governments, largely, to support school systems.

When a consumer pays sales tax locally, it is sent to the state, which redistributes it back to the county and its cities based on collection site.

Sales tax revenue is typically distributed back to localities two months after being collected.

Taxes collected during March, for example, come back to the localities in May.

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.

Each $1 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 August, sales tax revenues from non-city portions of the county are up about 14.5 percent — about $341,000 — compared to this time last year, according to the report released Thursday.

Some of that increase, however, includes adjustments in the county’s favor for past months’ collections. Those adjustments were the result of findings from an audit performed by an outside firm at the county’s request.

From the report:

•Sales tax revenues received by local governments in Sullivan County from August through this month totaled nearly $38.34 million. That’s down from $39 million for the same period last year.

•For the same period last year, the state sent about $24.42 million total back for sales taxes collected within the city of Kingsport — with half, or about $12.21 million — going to the city of Kingsport’s coffers and the other half being split among local school systems.

•This year the Kingsport total for the period was about $23.55 million, with half — roughly $11.78 million — going to city coffers, and the other half going to the school systems.

•Kingsport’s non-school share, since fiscal year 2008 began on July 1, shows a decrease of $431,162 compared to last year at this point.

•The Sullivan County school system’s year-to-date share is about $10.6 million, down $309,000 compared to this point last year, a decrease of about 2.8 percent.

•The Bristol City Schools system’s year-to-date share is about $3.39 million, down $6,751 compared to this point last year.

•The Kingsport City Schools system’s year-to-date share is about $5.18 million, down $14,445 compared to this point last year.

•The city of Bristol’s year-to-date non-school share is about $4.38 million, down $9,536 compared to this point last year.

•For March 2007, the state sent back about $1.17 million for sales tax revenues generated in the city of Bristol. For March 2008, the amount dropped more than $203,000, to about $966,000.

•Bluff City’s year-to-date share is about $260,000, down more than $48,000 compared to this point last year.

Fiscal year 2008 began July 1 and covers the county’s finances — and that of other local governments — through June 30, 2008.

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