Sullivan County resolution authorizing sales tax increase referendum withdrawn

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BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) — A resolution that would have authorized a referendum to raise the sales tax in Sullivan County has been withdrawn.

County Commissioner Sam Jones withdrew the measure during Thursday night’s commission meeting.

“The timing is just not good,” Jones said. “After talking with several of the commissioners, it was decided that this something that needs to be looked at a little later.”

The resolution called for equalizing the sales tax in Kingsport, Bristol, and unincorporated areas of the county. The sales tax rate is currently 2.5 percent in Kingsport and 2.25 percent in Bristol and unincorporated areas of the county, in addition to the state’s 7 percent sales tax.

Under Jones’s proposal, a referendum would have been held on setting the county tax rate at 2.75 percent in the county and both cities.

“This would allow us to increase education funds without property taxes,” Jones said.

Mayor Richard Venable agrees that it is not the time, despite an expected decline in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Projections are between five and eight percent loss of revenue because of COVID-19, so I think we can make the adjustments,” Venable said.

The mayor believes the measure won’t come up again in 2020.

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