EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story had incorrect data for the sales tax rate in Kingsport and Sullivan County. That information has been updated below.

SULLIVAN Co., Tenn. (WJHL)- Sullivan County Mayor Richard Venable says the county needs to make up for lost revenue from Covid-19 shutdowns.

“Because of the lack of and the loss of significant sales tax revenues during the last two months and not knowing how long that’s going to last into the future some of the commissioners thought it was time we looked at this,” said Venable. “Our cities are going to be in deep trouble because they rely on sales tax more than the county does. So, the county is the only one that can act in this case.”

People in Sullivan county could be asked to vote on a referendum in August to raise the sales tax to the same rate county-wide.

“If we were to pass it, we’d have a 9.75% tax rate in Sullivan county. That should’ve been done years ago because there is an unequal playing field right now,” Venable said.

Right now it is 9.25% in Bristol and unincorporated parts of the county and 9.5% in Kingsport. Part of that inequality is within the county’s shopping hubs.

“The Pinnacle is generating a lot of sales tax in Sullivan County. Bristol being at 9.25 is a loss of revenue,” said Venable.

Venable says both cities have a favorable impression of the increase especially since it could avoid raising property taxes.

“The alternative is a property tax increase and I don’t think any of our four governments in Sullivan county see a property tax increase right now,” Venable said.

Most of the funding from the increase would go to the school systems in the county and cities.

“When we make this adjustment, half of every dollar will go to the school system and it will replace a dollar that we’ve lost in March and April and we don’t know how much we’re going to lose in May, June, July,” Venable said.

Some commissioners don’t think now is the time.

“I don’t support raising property taxes or an operational sales tax at this time,” said district two commissioner Mark Vance. His fellow Bristol representative agrees.

“I don’t think it’s the right time to do something like this. I think it’s the right time to have a conversation about it, I don’t think it’s something we should rush into,” Commissioner Mark Hutton said. “The Pinnacle has been a big draw but if we raise our sales tax it could drive people to other parts, other counties… they could go to Washington County… to Virginia rather than Bristol and Sullivan County.”

Others say they think the decision is up to the people of Sullivan County through a vote.

“This is one of those items that it’s good to put it in front of the voters and give us a way to hear from them directly,” said district 11 commissioner John Gardner.

The commission will have a special called meeting for the first reading of this resolution Friday, May 15 at 9 am.