Tomorrow, Myrtle Beach City Council will vote on the following:
All involved tell MyrtleBeachSC news, the ordinance is likely to carry by unanimous vote. But what does the ordinance mean?
As MyHorryNews published on May 2, 2017: Horry County Council extended the life of the 1.5 percent hospitality tax indefinitely opening the spigot to a stream of money county leaders say could help build I-73.
The proposal was met with some opposition, but the measure ultimately passed with council members Tyler Servant, Paul Prince and Harold Worley voting against it.
Last Fall, at the end of his term, Council Chairman Lazarus pushed through an agreement that dedicated $25 million of these funds towards what he called Future I-73. Of the $41 million collected (by this re-instated hospitality tax), County Council agreed that, pending state approval, $25 million would be annually allocated to what they called I-73. Another $18 million would be earmarked and dedicated annually for growth needs inside the county. The county then entered into the below agreement with the SCDOT on this $25 million in funding.
Seventy percent of this hospitality tax is collected inside the city limits of North Myrtle Beach, Myrtle Beach, and Surfside Beach. County Council could never deliver on the promise to county residents that the $18 million guarantee would be firmly allocated or spent on those earmarked resident related growth expenses.
As a matter of law, when County Council extended the tax, they legally could only extend a 1% tax, per state statue. Had they extended only a 1% tax, as opposed to the current 1.5% tax, even that would exist on shaky and questionable legal standing. The current 1.5% extension is being collected outside of the parameters of existing state law.
RUMBLINGS OF WAR
Last year, as our readers may remember, on Friday, December 21st, the Horry County School District and the County sued the City of Myrtle Beach and the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base Redevelopment Authority.
The suit says Horry County leaders want a new school built in The Market Common, but Myrtle Beach city leaders didn’t include money to build the school in the redevelopment plan. The suit says the city misused money that should have been put toward that project.
Myrtle Beach officials cannot borrow money for redevelopment projects at the former Air Force base site because of a lawsuit challenging their plans for that property, according to court records recently filed by the City of Myrtle Beach. City officials contend the litigation could cost the city more than $42 million.
The county has also refused to provide funding for the Myrtle Beach City Library, Chapin Library.
THIS MEANS WAR
In effect, tomorrow’s vote by Myrtle Beach City Council is a preemptive funding strike against Horry County government by Myrtle Beach City government. In short, the city is laying claims on the allocation of those collected Hospitality Tax funds as to how they will be spent.
We reached out to key members of Horry County Council today, but have had no response as of this publish date.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
Who runs the county? County residents believe that the City of Myrtle Beach has too much say in all things Horry County government. These feelings have existed for more than a decade. Recent measures concerning Market Common demonstrated the county’s desire to take back what many say is too much lost territory.
However this plays out, while the city of Myrtle Beach clearly wants I-73 for its Myrtle Beach Area Chamber, its Tourism Lobby, CCAR realtors and developers, the road is still not funded beyond the county line, even with these dedicated funds. AND there is no means by which to fund the expressway beyond the county line.
NO RESIDENT EARMARKED FUNDING
It appears county residents will never see any of the $18 million promised. A compromise between city government and county government in this climate is unlikely.
AN ISOLATED, CUT OFF CITY
By its own demands and designs, the City of Myrtle Beach has cut itself off because of its stand on county parking issues, school funding, library demands, and the like. The City of Myrtle Beach increasingly becomes more and more isolated and cut off from the rest of the county.