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Henrietta Golding
Henrietta Golding, Johnny Vaught, Arrigo Carotti

Hospitality Fee Wars: City of MB hands Horry County its lunch

County Councilman Johnny Vaught called a meeting for this Saturday at 5 p.m. where he hopes to get clarity from Horry County Treasurer Angie Jones on whether Horry County can continue collecting a sun-setted 1.5% hospitality fee.

The fee was extended by former Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus in 2017. Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune now calls that action illegal. 15th circuit Horry County Judge Seals agreed with the city, for now, on the city’s position.

In the video below from last December, Councilman Harold Worley warns other councilmen that the cities would likely take this legal move. Lazarus can be heard scoffing at Worley, while pushing the measure forward.

Councilman Vaught told the Sun News today that “we” mis-interpreted the Judge’s ruling. While Vaught does not spell out who the “we” are, Horry County Attorney Arrigo Carotti and local city of Myrtle Beach attorney Henrietta Golding represent the county in this matter. Golding was hired by the county as an outside attorney once the suit was filed by Myrtle Beach.

A pattern of high profile, front page mis-steps show how Golding and Carotti are being out-lawyer-ed by the city of Myrtle Beach. Myrtle Beach is taking the lead, acting legally on behalf of all other coastal cities.

We need to clarify that, because apparently there has been a misunderstanding between the attorneys and the judge,” Vaught said. “I think the judge’s intent was to include all the municipalities and I think we, or someone, misinterpreted the judge’s intent.”

The special meeting must be held Saturday before those ordinances go into affect, Vaught said. The special ordinances Vaught speaks of concerns Judge Seals ruling that coastal cities have the right to collect these taxes and Horry County currently does not. Cities begin collecting those taxes on July 1st.

Vaught told the Myrtle Beach Sun News that while he doesn’t like it, he doesn’t think the judge’s ruling gives Horry County the authority to collect the fee until a final decision is made. 

JOHNNY VAUGHT AT THE HELM

Wednesday’s County Administrator hiring process, sent a clear message to local residents that Vaught is now calling the shots as it relates to Horry County.

Our reporting today concerned statements made by Mark Lazarus before the Wednesday interviews. This reporting indicates that City of Myrtle Beach resident and former county chairman Mark Lazarus is still in regular contact with most members of Horry County Council. Read that report here: https://myrtlebeachsc.com/sources-former-chairman-knew-wednesdays-events-in-detail-hours-before-council-meeting-happened/

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About David Hucks

Born in 1961, David is a 12th generation descendant of the area we now call Myrtle Beach, S.C. David attended Coastal Carolina University and like most of his family, has never left the area. David is the lead journalist at MyrtleBeachSC.com

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