County’s ‘bed tax’ revenue up close to $1.5 million for first six months of fiscal year

March collections came close to the $4-million mark, Sarasota County Tax Collector’s Office reports

Visitors make their way by Big Olaf’s in Siesta Village. Rachel Hackney photo

Through February, the county’s Tourist Development Tax (TDT) revenue was up more than $1 million year-over-year. Thanks to the traditional big boost in March, the total “bed tax” collections so far this fiscal year are almost $1.5 million higher than they were by the end of March 2017, the latest figures show.

March typically is the month during which collections exceed the $3-million mark, Tax Collector Barbara Ford-Coates and her staff have told members of Sarasota County’s Tourist Development Council. This year, the March figure came its closest yet to the $4-million mark.

The entities that report the revenue to the Sarasota County Tax Collector’s Office collected $3,935,699.06 in March, the Tax Collector’s Office has announced. That was an increase of $401,622.98 compared to the March 2017 TDT figure, the report says.

Overall, through the first six months of this fiscal year, bed tax revenue is up $1,483,768.28, the Tax Collector’s Office data show.

Audits and other revisions of the figures can lead to refined numbers Ford-Coates and her staff also have cautioned. Generally, over the past several years, those changes have been reflected in slight upticks of figures. For example, the numbers for TDT revenue for November and December 2017, as well as for January and February, are higher in the latest report from the Tax Collector’s Office. The February number rose from $249,363,85, as shown in the data reported through March 31, to $276,064, as noted in the report dated April 30.

Yet, the October 2017 number has dipped slightly in the most recent report. Last month, it was listed as $138,779.87. The latest data show it to be $138,777.72.

Oct. 1 marks the start of each county fiscal year.

A chart compares the latest TDT revenue figures to those for preceding fiscal years. Image courtesy Sarasota County Tax Collector’s Office

Overall, the county has collected $13,661,068.08 in TDT revenue so far this fiscal year. Of that total, $565,606.05 was reported by residents who rent accommodations through the Airbnb internet service, the Tax Collector’s Office pointed out.

The previous two fiscal years, the county set records in the amount of TDT it collected. The funds are used for a variety of projects, including beach maintenance and renourishment, as well as to cover the debt service on bonds the county issued to assist with the construction of the new Atlanta Braves Spring Training complex in the West Villages community outside North Port.

The March report also shows Siesta Key passing the city of Sarasota as the location for the highest total of collections. Siesta Key entities that collect the bed tax contributed 30.08% of the total thus far this fiscal year, compared to 28.49% for the city of Sarasota. Siesta typically wins recognition for the highest amount of TDT revenue hosts report each year in specific areas of the county.

In its report on the second quarter of the 2018 fiscal year — provided for the Tourist Development Council meeting scheduled for May 17 — Visit Sarasota County noted that the number of tourists visiting the county from January through March was up 2.7% compared to the same three months of 2017. The March figure was 3.5% higher than the figure for March 2017, the report said, with a total of 169,800.

Moreover, those visitors’ direct spending increased 4% for that quarter, compared to the second quarter of the 2017 fiscal year, the figures showed. The total for the three months, based on research undertaken for Visit Sarasota County, was $413,300,400, the report noted.

January saw the highest year-over-year change: 4.4%, followed by March with 4.1% and February with 3.4%. Direct spending in January was $100,809,700.

A Visit Sarasota County report shows data from the second quarter of the fiscal year. Image courtesy Visit Sarasota County

However, the occupancy rate for hotels/motels/condominiums was down 1.3% for February and 0.8% for both January and March, compared to the figures for the same months in 2017, the report said. The average daily rate charged was up 4.9% in March to $256.94; in February, it was higher by 3.2% year-over-year, at $219.47. For January, the increase was 3%, compared to the figure for January 2017. The figure for this January was $178.57, the report said.