County finances continuing a positive trend

The city of Sarasota has outpaced Siesta Key in tourist tax revenue collections through May. Photo by Norman Schimmel

Almost all of Sarasota County’s revenue figures for the fiscal year through June continue to show positive trends, with tourist development tax money leading the way, according to data released by the Office of Financial Planning.

TDT revenue was up 18.8% over what was budgeted through June, while all major revenues were 5.1% higher than anticipated by the end of that month.

The fiscal year began Oct. 1.

Utility revenues were up 7.5% over what was expected through the end of May, the last month for which those data were available.

The county’s half-cent sales tax revenue was up 6.9% through June.

The only negative report was for the gas tax revenue, which was down 3.5% over what was budgeted through June, the figures show.

With 75% of the fiscal year complete, the county had spent or encumbered 71% of the 2012 amended fiscal year budget, Chief Financial Planning Officer Steve Botelho reported to the County Commission in a July 9 email.

In response to the report, commission Chairwoman Christine Robinson told The Sarasota News Leader, “This fiscally conservative pessimist is teetering towards optimism.”

Commissioner Joe Barbetta told the News Leader, “I think it’s obvious tourism has led new people to the county,” leading to a more positive economic outlook.

“[Tourists] get captivated [and] they’ll … spend a little more time [and] a little more money.”

Moreover, he said, when they return home, they are like “walking billboards” for Sarasota County, leading to even more tourism.

Barbetta pointed out that many tourists end up moving to the county, drawn by the lack of a state income tax and a wonderful climate.

More businesses will come, too, he said, “if we can improve our workforce availability.”

Tourist tax revenue

Through May, Sarasota County had collected $10,431,124.41 in tourist tax revenue, according to data compiled by the Sarasota County Tax Collector’s Office.

Through May 2011, the county had collected $884,402.44. Therefore, the county took in about $2.1 million more in tourist tax revenue through the same period of FY 2012.

The city of Sarasota had managed to edge out Siesta Key in collections by location, records show. The city had collected 30.41% of the total TDT revenue through May, compared to 29.84% for Siesta.

Sarasota County was in third place, with 16.51% of the collections.

However, final figures can change because of reporting methods.

The following chart from the Tax Collector’s Office shows total TDT revenue collections by location through May:

Graph courtesy Sarasota County