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Manatee County resort tax collections reach record high

By Rick Catlin, Islander Reporter

An Anna Maria beach is filled last week with sun-seekers, although the winter-spring tourism season usually draws to a close after Easter, which was March 31. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin

February bed tax collections by the Manatee County Tax Collector’s resort tax division were $1.11 million, a record for February said Sue Sinquefield, director of the resort tax office.

The resort tax, often called the bed tax, is the 5 percent charged by Manatee County on accommodation rentals of six months or less. Resort tax collections have risen in 23 of the past 24 months according to the office’s online information.

February collections rose 6.2 percent from the $1.04 million collected in February 2012.

Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key accounted for 51 percent, or $561,000 of the $1.11 million total. For the past 24 months of collections, the island and Longboat Key provided around 62 percent of resort taxes collected.

The shift in collections is the result of a boost in accommodation rentals in unincorporated areas of east Manatee County, said Deb Meihls, marketing director for the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

For the past several years, the BACVB has conducted promotions to attract visitors, particularly during the winter season, to accommodations in east Manatee County and other unincorporated areas of the county. Looking at the $400,304 in resort tax collections in February for unincorporated Manatee County, Meihls said the strategy appears to be working.

The February collections for those unincorporated areas from $362,000 in 2012 to the $400,304 this February is a 10.5 percent hike.

Meihls said the BACVB is aware of the stress on Anna Maria Island during the winter season and has actively marketed rentals in other areas.

“We’re trying to market all our attractions in the county,” Meihls said. “The beaches will always be there, but there is so much else to see and do here.”

Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce president Mary Ann Brockman said she was pleased by the BACVB efforts to relieve island stress during the season, but noted that “sooner or later, they all end up on the island.”

Resort taxes are collected one month in arrears. Figures for March will be available around the first week of May, Sinquefield said.

Resort tax collections for 2011-12 rose 14.8 percent, while the surveyed number of visitors to the Bradenton area was up 7.5 percent, according to information from Research Data Services Inc., the company that gathers tourism information for the BACVB.

Resort tax collections have set records for each of the past four years and 2012-13 is on pace to beat last years’ record amount of $8.1 million.

For the first five months of 2012-13, $3.55 million has been collected by the resort tax office, a 12.1 percent hike over the $3.17 million collected in the first five months of fiscal year 2011-12. And that was the record-setting year for resort tax collections.

The $8.1 million eclipsed the former record of $7.01 million set in fiscal year 2010-11.

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