MANATEE -- Collection of tourist development taxes, or "bed taxes" charged to tourists, has hit a milestone of $10 million, the Manatee County tax collector said Friday.
"To put this in perspective, in the last financial year 2012-2013, we collected $8.993 million," said Ken Burton Jr., Manatee County tax collector. "Our taxpayers are still in the process of remitting September taxes, so we achieved our goal one full month before the fiscal year-end.
"The final figure will be available on Nov. 1, but we could not wait to announce this accomplishment," he said. "I am very proud of our Field Services & Collections TDT Team for their tenacity and persistence."
His staff manages about 7,000 accounts involving the tax; tourists pay 5 cents in "tourist taxes," or "bed taxes" out of every dollar they spend at hotels, motels and vacation rentals, he said.
The team is led by director Michele Schulz; members include Sue Sinquefield, auditor; Dominic Fragomeni, field deputy; and staff support, Kris Reeves and Tanya Ranney, according to Burton's assistant, Jan Bray Hilker.
Proceeds of the tax are spent on items affecting tourism, such as beach renourishment, Bradenton's McKechnie Field, and the county's Bradenton Area Convention Center.
Other counties in the Tampa Bay area and across the state are also benefiting from high collection rates of tourist taxes, Burton said.
"Some of it has to do with stay-cationers during the recession," he said, referring to locals who could not afford to go elsewhere on vacation, so they stayed and enjoyed local Florida attractions.
"We've been seeing double-digit increases for many years now," Burton said. "When the economy tanked, the tourist tax has just been going crazy, people just stay close to home, and that's been a statewide trend."
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter@sarawrites.