While eminent domain efforts are still underway to take two private businesses away from local ownership, the city has not yet budgeted how it will pay for such. The city plans to take two private downtown businesses through eminent domain and then build two new “tax payer funded” private businesses that include the Edventures Children’s Museum and the privately owned Chapin Memorial Library. Myrtle Beach city government failed to put the cost of those items in its most recently passed 2018 budget.
On Tuesday, Myrtle Beach elected leaders boasted of no new tax increases while only glossing over new fee increases that will be added to all city residents. However, there was no mention of either the Children’s Museum nor the Chapin Library in final budget approval.
“The plans for the new Children’s Museum, new Chapin Memorial Library are something that we need to talk about. Those really aren’t set in next year’s capital improvement projects at this point. They would be at a future stage,” City Public Information Officer Mark Kruea told Sina Gebre-Ab of WBTW, TV 13 earlier this week.
Last February and March 2017, news reports revealed that the city of Myrtle Beach was working through a third party real estate broker to hide it’s desired intentions to purchase properties in the Myrtle Beach Superblock. Once emails were leaked of that effort, the city hastily put on a press conference announcing plans for two privately owned, but tax payer funded, new projects. City Council then voted to give City Manager, John Pedersen approval to take the existing businesses from private owners through the use of eminent domain.
The cost of building the Children’s museum and the building of a new, privately owned Chapin Library are estimated at $10 million. Those costs do not include the costs city government has already borrowed to purchase previous private properties in the Superblock nor the costs to purchase the two still existing and currently operating private businesses. Those costs are now over $3 million and still running. Myrtle Beach taxpayers will be entirely on the hook for purchases of existing “taken” businesses and the construction of these two new privately owned business ventures.
On Tuesday, June 13th, the city approved a 2017/2018 fiscal $190 million budget, however, the $10 million in funding for those new projects was left out. With the city currently $200 million in debt and with little to no current ability to borrow any additional monies, local residents we spoke with found the lack of this inclusion suspicious.
Speculation online was that the city was simply refusing, once again, to be transparent with merchants and residents.
However, our own research indicates the city currently has not resolved how it can pay for the two projects. As Mrs. Gebre-Ab reported, City spokesperson Mark Kruea says the city was already well into budget plans for the new fiscal year by the time the new library and museum were announced. City finance officials presented a 5-year plan for capital improvement projects and Kruea says the city wants to include the new constructions in that 5-year timeline. (somewhere in the future?) The city still doesn’t have an estimate for how much it could all cost and hasn’t decided where exactly that money will come from.