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More money for your schools: Sales tax revenue up in March

J. H. Osborne • Mar 31, 2017 at 9:38 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — Monthly sales tax revenues countywide were up more than 3.9 percent this month compared to March 2016, according to a report prepared by Sullivan County’s accounting office.

But it marks the first time in the eight months since the fiscal year began that revenue collected in Bristol decreased compared to the same month a year prior. Overall, however, Bristol sales taxes are up 11.7 percent for the eight-month period, compared to a nearly 2 percent drop in Kingsport sales taxes during the same timeframe.

Countywide, March sales tax revenue totaled more than $4.15 million, an increase of 3.91 percent (or $157,000) compared to March 2016.

For county government, any increase is good news because the county developed its budget for the year using a conservative approach by estimating sales tax revenue equal to last year’s level.

Sales tax collections from businesses within the city of Kingsport continue to make up the bulk of revenue, with more than $2.66 million of the $4.15 million coming from within the Model City — an uptick of about $83,000 from March  2016.

Businesses inside the city of Bristol generated about $926,000 $4.15 million — a decrease of about $27,000 from March 2016.

For period since the current fiscal year began, the portion of sales tax collections generated within Kingsport is about $228,000 (1.95 percent) less compared to the same period a year ago.

The figure for Bristol during the same period represents growth of about $483,000 (11.7 percent), compared to a year ago.

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

Sales tax revenues are generated when money is spent on goods and services at businesses throughout the county and its cities.

When a consumer pays sales tax locally, it is sent to the state, which 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.

Year-to-date, the countywide total for sales tax revenue is about $37.48 million. That represents an increase of more than $877,000 (or 2.4 percent) from the same period last year.

Where did the $37.48 million in revenue go?

To date, according to the accounting office’s report (some numbers rounded):

• The city of Kingsport’s non-school share of taxes totals $11.46 million, a decrease of $227,750 compared to a year ago.

• The Kingsport school system’s share is nearly $5.99 million, an increase of $215,171 compared to a year ago.

• The city of Bristol’s non-school share totals more than $4.6 million, an increase of $482,742 compared to a year ago.

• The Bristol school system’s share totals nearly $3.72 million, an increase of $107,110 compared to a year ago.

• Sullivan County’s non-school portion of sales taxes generated outside the cities totals more than $2.36 million, an increase of $198,738 compared to a year ago.

• The Sullivan County school system’s share is nearly $9.036 million, an increase of $116,348 compared to a year ago.