Instead of estimated $14.5 million, cited during June budget workshop, figure proves to be $16.3 million
Every year, by Oct. 31, Sarasota County Tax Collector Barbara Ford-Coates must complete an annual financial report and return excess fees to all taxing districts and the Sarasota County Commission, as she and her staff have pointed out during county budget workshops.
For the 2023 fiscal year, Ford-Coates has reported that her office has returned a record $17.8 million in excess fees to the taxing districts, including $16.3 million to the County Commission.
During a June 20 presentation to the commissioners, as part of their workshop on the 2024 fiscal year budget, Ford-Coates said she anticipated that the county would receive about $14.5 million this year.
In a message to the commissioners sharing the information about the actual total, a news release notes, Ford-Coates explained that these excess fees represent “what the private sector would call ‘profit.’ ” She added, “This is the highest percentage returned of all Florida Tax Collectors.”
She reminded the board members during her June 20 remarks that her staff handles such transactions as issuing drivers’ licenses, conducting drivers’ road tests, and issuing concealed weapons permits and hunting and fishing licenses.
Over the past 10 years, Ford-Coates continued in her message to the commissioners, her office has returned nearly $114 million of “profits” to the county, which helps cover its expenses.
In 2021, Ford-Coates reported that her office turned over $12.3 million to the county. In 2022, she told the commissioners during the June 20 budget workshop, the figure was $12.8 million.
The only money her office receives from the county, she pointed out in June, are the fees for collecting property taxes each year. The most recent figure for that service was $2.5 million, she added.
During those annual budget workshop presentations, Ford-Coates has explained that the Florida Department of Revenue has to sign off on her annual budget, not the County Commission. However, she always says that she appreciates the opportunity to address the board members, so she can talk about the activities of her staff and answer any questions.
In acknowledgement of the efficiency and creativity of her staff, Ford-Coates also pointed out in the recent news release, “I am pleased to report that my office cost per capita remains the lowest of all Florida Tax Collectors. One reason for our cost effectiveness stems from my office’s extensive use of technology, including the use of electronic payment methods.”
In the past 10 years, the release notes, more than 2 million transactions have been paid at www.SarasotaTaxCollector.com, totaling approximately $2.5 billion.