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Sullivan sales tax revenue growth hits double digits in September

BLOUNTVILLE — County- wide, sales tax revenues for September were up 15.35% compared to September 2020, according to a report from the Sullivan County Finance Department.

That’s nearly $790,000 in growth, year over year, and is nearly triple the 5.41% growth recorded for September 2020. That growth includes revenue to the county’s cities, all of which saw increases, except for Johnson City.

The countywide total for September was more than $5.93 million, compared to nearly $5.14 million in September 2020.

Where did revenue come from?

Kingsport continues to produce the largest chunk of sales taxes generated within the county.

The $5.93 million, by collection point: Kingsport, $3.44 million; Bristol, $1.38 million; non-city portions of the county, $982,100; Johnson City, $75,200; and Bluff City, nearly $59,200.

September growth by location, year over year: Kingsport, $473,086; Bristol, $161,970; non-city portions of the county, $155,300; Bluff City, $4,824; and Johnson City, -$5,470.

September is the second month of sales tax revenue for the fiscal year that began July 1 for the county and cities.

August sales tax revenue was up countywide by 8.9%, leaving a two-month year-to-date average growth of 12.05%.

The two-month countywide total is $11.8 million.

Where does revenue go?

Half of the money goes to local school systems.

Sullivan County Schools’ share is $2.63 million, up $255,000 compared to the same period a year ago.

Kingsport City Schools’ share is $2.09 million, up $270,000 compared to last year.

The Bristol, Tennessee, City Schools’ share is nearly $1.16 million, up $112,000 compared to last year.

Johnson City Schools’ share is $22,000, down $2,200 compared to last year.

The non-school share for each locality for the two-month period: Sullivan County, $975,000, up $168,000; Kingsport, $3.36 million, up $339,000; Bristol, $1.42 million, up $146,000; Bluff City, $60,000, up $5,300; Johnson City, $78,000, down $24,000.

Sales taxes 101

Sales tax revenues come back to the localities two months after they are collected by local merchants.

July sales tax collections, for example, return as revenue to Sullivan County, Kingsport, Bristol, Bluff City and Johnson City — as well as to the three school systems in the county — in September.

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.

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.

Crunch time

Darrell Sturgill of Wise, Virginia, harvests black walnuts in this recent photo. Sturgill first gathers the walnuts in the back of his truck, then he cracks them in his driveway with a riding lawn mower. Then comes the separation of the hull and nut for the drying process. Sturgill will store the black walnuts for the winter, and then his spouse, Ilene, will transform them into a variety dishes — especially candy and a Black Walnut Fruit Salad. Sturgill is one those who appreciates the fruit of Mother Nature.

Kingsport again surveying condition of its roads

KINGSPORT — The Model City is once again taking inventory of nearly every street in town.

No, none of the streets is missing. The inventory is of the condition of all of the roads maintained by the city throughout the year.

It’s a process that ranks the roughly 500 miles of city roads from best to worst, which will then allow the city to know which ones need a new coat of asphalt.

The inventory is done by a specialized vehicle that drives every city road, shooting lidar (3-D laser scanning) down on the roadway and assessing condition and determining cracks. Roadway Asset Services of Austin, Texas, will be performing the work at a cost of approximately $100,000.

“Technology has got to the point where it can receive microscopic information related to the roadway surface,” said Deputy City Manager Ryan McReynolds. “(The vehicle) gathers information and a computer program takes it and rates roadway segments in a way you’re able to objectively determine the worst ones in the city.”


The vehicle in question is a van, and it started surveying the streets in September. McReynolds said the work should take about a month to complete.

The van has digital cameras that will collect imagery on all pavement and above ground, transportation-related assets located within the right-of-way, such as sidewalks, curb lines and catch basins.

This imagery will then be used to create a digital image inventory. A similar assessment was done in Kingsport in 2016 and was the baseline data for the city’s prioritized paving plan. McReynolds said the city plans to do surveys every five years.


For the past five years, Kingsport has been working toward a sustainable paving program where every city-owned street in town is paved every 20 to 25 years, rather than the previous 50- to 55-year paving cycle.

According to the 2021 paving plan, more than $12 million worth of street resurfacing will take place this year, money that will come from the city itself and from the state of Tennessee.

This current assessment will survey roughly 500 miles of city streets, excluding roads owned and maintained by the state or federal government. The final report will likely be done by winter.

“It’ll rank the neighborhoods from the worst condition streets on up to the best,” McReynolds said. “As we do this every five years, that will allow us to see the rate of failure and degradation, even predict when neighborhoods would be next in the (paving) cycle.”

For more information about the survey call (423) 229-9451.

Kingsport’s Deputy City Manager Ryan McReynolds is shown at the Miracle Field with Justin Holland, president of the Tennessee Chapter of the American Public Works Association. The Model City’s Miracle Field has received the TCAPWA’s Mark Miller Tennessee Public Works Project of the Year Award for 2020.

Leaf collection in Kingsport begins on Monday and runs through the middle of January.