Latest Tourist Development Tax data wipes out most of year-over-year drop for April and shows revenue continuing on pace for new record

Revenue total from Airbnb accommodations approaching three-quarters of a million dollars for the current fiscal year, through May

A couple enjoys a late evening respite at Beach Access 2 on Siesta Key. Rachel Hackney photo

Adjustments to the April reports reflecting collections of the Sarasota County Tourist Development Tax — or, “bed tax” — wiped out more than $61,000 of the year-over year drop the Sarasota County Tax Collector’s Office previously recorded for that month, the latest figures show.

Furthermore, though Visit Sarasota County President Virginia Haley reported in late June that the poor Memorial Day weekend weather had led to cancellations of vacations, the May Tourist Development Tax (TDT) revenue still managed to climb $102,717.85 in comparison to the figure for the same month in 2017. Thus, the revenue stream remains on track for another record-breaking year.

From Oct. 1, 2017 — the first day of the current fiscal year — through May 31, TDT collections totaled $17,401,906.39. The year-over-year increase at that point was $1,707,065.70, the Sarasota County Tax Collector’s Office has reported.

In the 2016 fiscal year, the county set a record with more than $20.1 million collected in TDT revenue. The 2017 fiscal year total was $21,349,214.70, the Tax Collector’s Office has reported.

As collections continue to rise, the Sarasota County commissioners plan an in-depth discussion about TDT revenue during their Aug. 22 budget workshop. In June, as they worked on the 2019 fiscal year budget, they talked of the potential for reallocating the TDT distribution system, so more of the money could be used for projects that would, in turn, generate even more TDT revenue. For example, Mote Marine Laboratory has proposed a new aquarium on county property at Nathan Benderson Park, and the leadership of Selby Gardens has asked for the board’s consideration of helping fund expanded facilities at that tourist destination in the city of Sarasota.

As for the latest TDT report: The data through April 30 had shown the revenue total for that month was $64,432.37 less than the amount reported in April 2017. However, the revised total for April is down by only $3,204.54, compared to the figure for April 2017.

A chart shows the latest Tourist Development Tax figures for this year, compared to data from the two previous fiscal years. Image courtesy Sarasota County Tax Collector’s Office

Tax Collector Barbara Ford-Coates and her staff have pointed out on numerous occasions that audits and other revisions of the figures can lead to the posting of new numbers, month-to-month.

In fact, a disclaimer at the bottom of each report notes, “All figures are subject to change following audit and enforcement actions.”

For another example in the latest report: The revenue collected in March totals $515,717.19. However, the previous report from the Tax Collector’s Office put the March figure at $493,086.52.

Additionally, the latest figure for December 2017 shows an uptick of close to $3,000 from the previous report. The new data puts the December 2017 total at $263,839.99, compared to the previous figure of $261,058.36.

TDT revenue collected by Airbnb hosts also continues to climb, the latest report shows. Through May, that amount is $762,594.94. The prior Tax Collector’s Office report — with data collected through April — showed a total of $668,591.67.

On a related note: Airbnb recently released a report on its hosts’ top “wish-listed” accommodation for each Florida county. A news release noted that those listings “vary widely in size and scope,” ranging from a 62-acre Lake County property called “Andrew’s Ever After Estate, to “Anna’s 7 by 18 ft Lakeside TINYHOUSE!” in Polk County.

“Airbnb’s ‘wish-list’ function allows users to save the listings they most desire when planning trips, whether it be a beautiful kitchen, a peaceful backyard, or a charming neighborhood that catches their eye,” the news release explains.

For this report, the release notes, “Airbnb tabulated and added up hundredsof thousands of wish-lists to establish which listing in each county was #1.”

‘Tropical Escape’ by Michael is the No. 1 wish-listed Airbnb property in Sarasota County. Image from the accommodation website

In Sarasota County, Airbnb’s No. 1 listing proved to be “Tropical Escape,” hosted by Michael. It has three bedrooms with 14 beds and two baths, its website says. The elevated home sits on 2 acres and has “private forest views,” the website adds.

As for the latest Sarasota County TDT data noted by location: Siesta Key leads through May, with revenue reported by entities on the island comprising 30.16% of the county’s total. The city of Sarasota is in second place, accounting for 29.4% of the revenue through May. The city of North Port remains in last place, with 0.29% of the total.