Report on county’s finances at end of 2023 fiscal year shows total revenue up by $188 million, compared to 2022 fiscal year figure

Property tax collections rise about $48 million, year-over-year

This graphic in the 2023 financial report shows details about the county’s investments. Image courtesy Karen Rushing, clerk of the Circuit Court and county comptroller

Although the Sarasota County commissioners already have begun their workshops regarding preparation of the county budget for the 2025 fiscal year — which will begin on Oct. 1 — they recently heard highlights from the report on the county’s finances in the 2023 fiscal year, which was produced by Karen Rushing, clerk of the Circuit Court and county comptroller, and her staff.

During the board members’ regular meeting on March 19, Nicole E. Jovanovski, a CPA who is the director of finance for the Office of the Sarasota County Clerk of the Circuit Court and County Comptroller, provided the review of key points from the report. At the outset of her remarks, she pointed out that the audit of the county’s finances for the 2023 fiscal year produced what is called a “clean opinion,” meaning no issues of concern were identified.

The firm that handled the audit was Carr, Riggs & Ingram LLC of Sarasota, documents show.

Jovanovski first noted that the county’s revenue increased by $188 million in the 2023 fiscal year, reaching a total of $1.3 billion.

The property tax revenue collections were higher by $48.2 million — 17.9% — compared to the figure for the 2022 fiscal year, she said.

A document that the county had to turn over to the state put the property tax revenue total at $317,082,026.14. (However, as indicated by a news release that Tax Collector Barbara Ford-Coates’ staff issued in late March, persons who had yet to pay their property taxes could do so by March 31 with no assessment of fees.)

Jovanovski noted that the value of property in the unincorporated areas of the county rose 14.2% last year, as documented by Property Appraiser Bill Furst and his staff.

Nicole Jovanovski addresses the commissioners on March 19. News Leader image

Further, she said, the General Fund ended the 2023 fiscal year with nearly $400 million in revenue. The figure listed in the audit report was $389,237,018. That reflected a $12.7 million increase, compared to the 2022 fiscal year figure.

As the audit report explained, “The General Fund is the chief operating fund of Sarasota County. The General Fund represents 46.4 percent of the total governmental revenues.”

Total expenditures from the General Fund were $373.3 million, Jovanovski continued, which was down $27.2 million, compared to the FY 2022 total, she said.

Moreover, by the end of the fiscal year, Jovanovski noted, the General Fund balance was approximately $144 million. (The audit listed the number as $144,919,770.) The final figure was up about $27.1 million, compared to the expectation of the county’s financial management staff, she said.

Additionally, Jovanovski said, the value of the county’s investment portfolio climbed 4.92%.

Among other revenue details in the audit were the following:

  • Residential public safety impact fees totaled $7,447,854.10, while commercial public safety impact fees added up to $1,845,198.94.
  • Fees for Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Department programs totaled $750,626.61.
  • Library fees added up to $59,049.60.

Further, the report noted, “At the close of the current fiscal year, governmental funds reported combined ending fund balances of $735.7 million, an increase of $87.4 million during the current fiscal year.”

The 2023 county financial report includes this information, as well. Image courtesy Karen Rushing, clerk of the Circuit Court and county comptroller