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Kingsport sales tax revenue up 20 percent for June

Sharon Caskey Hayes • Aug 21, 2008 at 12:00 AM

KINGSPORT — Sales tax revenue jumped a whopping 20 percent in Kingsport in June, marking the third consecutive month of sales tax growth in the city.

According to city figures, Kingsport’s sales tax revenue grew 20 percent to $2.71 million in June this year vs. the same period last year.

It was the city’s strongest one-month showing in sales tax revenue in the past 10 years, excluding Christmas.

The June figures follow gains in both April and May. Sales tax revenue rose 3.63 percent in May in the city and increased 5.87 percent in April, the data shows.

Kingsport City Manager John Campbell attributed the latest increase in sales tax revenue to several factors, including shifting regional buying patterns, economic stimulus checks from the federal government, and more shopping options in the city.

“With more than $100 million in new commercial/retail investment recently completed, under way or planned going forward, the community should begin to see this type of positive trend,” Campbell said.

Stores continue to open in the new Kingsport Pavilion on East Stone Drive, while construction at the new Reedy Creek Terrace on Eastman Road is well under way. And renovations and expansions at the Kingsport Town Center — formerly the Fort Henry Mall — are expected to begin in the next few months.

The retail expansion follows the construction of East Stone Commons in 2005.

Even adjusting for August 2007, when $170,000 in sales taxes were audited away from Kingsport by the state and distributed to other jurisdictions, sales tax collections in June were still up 11.5 percent over the adjusted rate, according to city information.

“Three months is a short period of time, but this certainly beats the difficult year we saw last year,” Mayor Dennis Phillips said. “The Board of Mayor and Aldermen have worked very hard the past couple of years to retain existing retail and recruit new shopping opportunities to Kingsport. I believe we are beginning to see the results of those efforts.”

Kingsport’s strong sales tax figures helped boost Sullivan County’s June sales tax revenues.

According to county figures, sales tax revenue was up more than 7 percent in June.

The county’s data shows that Kingsport’s sales tax revenue increased to $2.4 million in June — down $300,000 from the city’s figure of $2.7 million. City spokesman Tim Whaley said the difference reflects Kingsport’s quarter-cent sales tax, which was approved by voter referendum to pay for the MeadowView Conference Resort and Convention Center. The county did not include those numbers in its report.

The county report shows that Bristol’s sales tax revenue fell 3.7 percent in June and Bluff City’s sales tax revenue dropped 44 percent. Bluff City’s numbers reflect an adjustment in the county’s favor.

Half of all sales tax revenue in Kingsport goes directly to fund school systems throughout Sullivan County. The rest goes to the city’s general fund.

Through two months of fiscal 2009, the city’s general fund revenue from sales taxes is up $163,369 over budget.

On a fiscal year basis, from July 2007 through June 2008, Kingsport logged $180.93 million in new residential, commercial and industrial construction, exceeding the $123.35 million logged in the previous fiscal year.

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