Through July, county’s ‘bed tax’ revenue totals more than $45.5 million

Every month this fiscal year has seen an increase, compared to tally for same month in 2022 fiscal year

This is the Tourist Development Tax Comparison Report, showing the July figures. Image courtesy Tax Collector Barbara Ford-Coates

The month of July marked yet another uptick in Sarasota County Tourist Development Tax — or, “bed tax” — revenue, compared to the same month in the 2022 fiscal year, the latest Sarasota County Tax Collector’s Office reports show.

Thus far, no month in this fiscal year has seen less revenue documented than during the same month of the 2022 fiscal year.

The Tourist Development Tax (TDT) revenue this July totaled $3,720,596.47, which is higher by $367,521.18 than the amount collected in July 2022, as shown in the latest documents released by Tax Collector Barbara Ford-Coates and her staff.

Moreover, the TDT revenue for this fiscal year through July added up to $45,538,495.89, which bests the total for all of the 2022 fiscal year by $9,118,974.06, the reports say. The 2022 total was $40,307,666.28, the reports show.

The revenue collected through July 2022 added up to $36,346,393.20. That means that the amount reported through July of this year is 25% higher than the amount turned over to the Tax Collector’s Office through July 2022.

The fiscal year will end on Sept. 30. Thus, two more months of TDT revenue reports are due before Ford-Coates and her staff will have the final figure for the 2023 fiscal year.

So far, October 2022 saw the biggest month-over-month increase in comparisons of the 2022 fiscal year data to amounts collected for this fiscal year: $1,503,399.09. July’s uptick was the second lowest, with the May revenue having the distinction of the least increase. For May, the collections were up $323,498.49, compared to the total for May 2022, as shown in the latest reports.

The County Commission did raise the Tourist Development Tax from 5% to 6% on Oct. 1, 2022. State law made that possible, thanks to the amount of revenue that the tax brought in during the 2021 calendar year; it exceeded $30 million.

The tax is charged on accommodations rented for six months or less time. The revenue is used for a variety of purposes, including beach maintenance and upkeep of the two Major League Baseball stadiums in the county.

Among other details in the latest reports, the month-over-month increase for June has risen from $512,656.64, as shown in the previous data, to $569,007.35. The latter figure is up by nearly 11%, compared to the original uptick.

For another example, the month-over-month climb for February has risen to $1,203,967.35, which is about 2% higher than the figure previously reported — $1,180,189.53.

Ford-Coates and her staff have explained that audits and other enforcement actions can lead to changes in numbers from one month to another.

Yet another detail of the latest reports is that the county has received $6,041,674.57 from Airbnb through July of this fiscal year. That amount is up about 41%, compared to the $4,279,420.20 collected through July of the 2022 fiscal year.

Altogether, the revenue generated by hosts operating through online platforms as of the end of July represented 20.61% of the total for this fiscal year, Ford-Coates and her staff noted. For the same period of the 2022 fiscal year, the online platforms accounted for 19.27% of the TDT money.

This is the Location Report for July. Image courtesy Tax Collector Barbara Ford-Coates

Along with Airbnb, TripAdvisor and HomeAway — plus all of their subsidiaries — turn over TDT revenue to the Tax Collector’s Office. However, only Airbnb allows Ford-Coates and her staff to specify how much money its hosts collects, and it does not identify those hosts, under the terms of the agreement forged between Airbnb and the county.

Traditionally, as The Sarasota News Leader has reported, the City of Sarasota and Siesta Key wage a figurative battle over which location collects the highest amount of bed tax revenue each fiscal year. Though July, the city remained in the lead, with 26.33% of the funds. Siesta hosts have collected 25.73% of the money.

Along with the monthly reports from the Tax Collector’s Office, Visit Sarasota County, the county’s tourism marketing agency, releases data collected on its behalf by a Tallahassee firm, Downs & St. German.

The latest report shows that the number of visitors declined 1.7% from July 2022 to July of this year — from 156,000 to 153,370.

However, the visitors who did come in July accounted for 1.2% more in direct expenditures than those who traveled to Sarasota County in July 2022, the data show. The total for July 2022 was $143,573,100; this July, the figure was $145,328,800.

The following are other details in the Downs & St. German report:

  • The occupancy rate for accommodations fell 10.1%, month-over-month. The figure was 76.1% in July 2022; this July, it was 68.4%.
  • The average room rate was up 9.9%, from $221.17 in July 2022 to $242.96 for this July.
  • The number of room nights sold declined 3.2%. The total in July 2022 was 294,900; this July, it was 285,500.

Finally, Downs & St. Germain staff checks with general managers of accommodations each month to learn about their view of tourism for the next three months. In July, the firm found, property managers were less optimistic about the upcoming period, with seven out of 10 of them reporting decreased demand and only 10% saying they were seeing rising demand.