Thus far, Sarasota County has recorded an increase of almost $690,000 in ‘bed tax’ collections compared to the same period in the last year
Tourist Development Tax revenue (TDT) did not decline after all in April, the latest data from the Sarasota County Tax Collector’s Office shows.
Based on figures reported through June 30, April saw an increase of $326.24 compared to the total revenue for the same month in 2015, according to the Tax Collector’s Office. The TDT revenue for April of this year was $1,821,522.50; in April 2015, it was $1,821,196.26, as shown in the June 30 chart released by the Tax Collector’s Office.
The Sarasota News Leader reported on July 8 that data provided to the Tax Collector’s Office through the end of May showed a 2.2-percent dip — $39,357 — from April 2015 to April of this year. However, Tax Collector’s Office staff has told the News Leader that, because all figures must be given to the department by a specific date each month, a more thorough accounting by those entities that collect the tax can lead to changes by the time the office releases its next monthly report.
As for May of this year: TDT revenue was up by $12,600.27 year-over-year, according to the figures recorded through June 30. Except for the April figure, that is the smallest increase thus far this fiscal year, which began Oct. 1, 2015. However, the May figure could change, just as April’s did.
Overall, through June 30, the county had collected $15,127,044.84, which represents an increase of $688,515.04 compared to the same period of the previous fiscal year.
Once again, Siesta Key businesses that collect the tax led the way, accounting for 31.23 percent of total revenue, with $4,724,840.36.
And, once again, the city of Sarasota was in second place, with 29.57 percent of the TDT revenue: $4,473,224.73.
In a desire to keep tourists coming, the Daiquiri Deck Raw Bar restaurants and the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce have been among those pointing out in email blasts over the past several days that Sarasota County’s beaches are not experiencing the “guacamole algae” that has devastated shorelines in Martin, St. Lucie and Palm Beach counties on the state’s Atlantic Coast and in Lee County on the Gulf of Mexico.
“Our Waters are Beautiful and Weather Amazing!” the Daiquiri Deck e-blast reported on July 8, which included a photo of the Gulf and invited people to visit Ourgulfenvironment.net, a webpage provided by the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County. The webpage features information on any “no swim” advisories. None was noted on July 11 when the News Leader reviewed the page.
The Siesta Chamber’s July 2016 newsletter said, “Sarasota County continuously monitors area beach conditions and water quality reports in Sarasota Bay to record levels of chlorophyll (algae).” The newsletter also referred readers to the Health Department webpage.
On July 13, Drayton Saunders, president of Michael Saunders & Co. and the chair of the Visit Sarasota County Board of Directors, appeared before the County Commission to introduce the tourism agency’s scope of work and budget request for the 2017 fiscal year. In the aftermath of the development of that material, he noted, “we’ve seen blue-green algae drama play out on [the Florida] east coast.” When people are planning vacations to this area, he continued, they may not perceive correctly “what affects Sarasota [and] what doesn’t, so you have a team that’s both nimble and pro-active in making sure that we have a very healthy and strong tourism trend line.”