Jonesborough sees big jump in sales tax revenue

Jonathan Roberts • Oct 20, 2019 at 8:32 PM

Business is booming in Jonesborough, and the town's mayor thinks it’s “only the tip” of the iceberg.

“I expect (the growth) to continue, the first month of this (fiscal) year was the best July we’ve ever had,” Jonesborough Mayor Chuck Vest said, adding that he feels the jump is partly due to a rise in people moving to the town and the county.

Jonesborough’s population has risen by almost 200 people since 2015. The county, meanwhile, has seen its population jump by more than 2,000 over the same time period, according to yearly population estimates from World Population Review.

Perhaps a better indicator, however, is the increase in the town’s building permits. Thus far in 2019, Jonesborough has seen nearly a 50% increase in the number of building permits compared to all of last year — something former Jonesborough Mayor Kelly Wolfe says is a sign that the town is growing.

“The more people that live and shop in Jonesborough, the better our sales tax revenues are going to be,” said Wolfe, who also owns Wolfe Development. “Associations and merchants in town have done an excellent job at bringing people to town on a consistent basis, and that’s bound to increase sales tax collections.”

From the 2017-18 fiscal year to the 2018-19 fiscal year, the town’s sales tax revenue went up $102,473.19. The previous two years combined saw gains of just $54,704.21. The town’s sales tax rate of 9.5% did not change during that time period.

Town alderman and owner of Tennessee Hills Distillery, Stephen Callahan, says seeing that increase in revenue gives him more confidence that the town’s economy is strong and growing, and that he hopes it attracts new businesses to Jonesborough.

“Rising tides float all ships, and I think that’s a sign that Jonesborough is starting to perform better economically,” Callahan said. “When you see that kind of increase from a year-to-year basis, it’s definitely a good confidence booster for sure.

“Jonesborough is a viable town right now for small businesses,” Callahan said. “Hopefully this makes (small and large businesses) more attracted to Jonesborough.”

Most notably, the growth hasn’t only occurred during the region’s traditional tourism months (summer to fall), and instead has remained fairly consistent throughout the year. In July, the town posted its best ever July for sales tax revenue, pulling in $154,758.39 — a jump of just under $8,000 from July 2018.

“I think it’s motivation for the businesses in town to keep on doing what they’re doing, and to welcome others,” Callahan said. “The water’s warm, man, come on it.

“It’s a very exciting time to be here in Jonesborough and I’m happy to be a part of it,” Callahan added.