Despite protests from Mark Lazarus -former Horry County Council Chairman, Karen Riorden – Myrtle Beach Area Chamber C.E.O., and Tony Cox – SCDOT Highway Commissioner, Myrtle Beach City Council voted unanimously on a first reading to cease a 1.5% county hospitality tax payment on Tuesday, February 26th. The Hospitality Tax funds were allocated by Horry County at $25 million annually to fund future I-73. The contract with SCDOT is a 20 year minimum contract.
The town then passed an ordinance to keep those funds inside the city.
While City Manager, John Pedersen claimed the issue had nothing to do with I-73, Lazarus, Riorden, and Cox argued that the new ordinance would effectively kill I-73.
MyrtleBeachSC news learned from Surfside Beach Councilman Randle Stevens that Surfside Beach will also be discussing enacting a similar effort today with city staff. The measure could be brought up at Surfside Beach’s next City Council meeting.
We also learned from sources in North Myrtle Beach that a special meeting will be called for that same purpose there as well.
Sixty percent of the funds that support the $41 million annual tax are collected in these three coastal cities. Unless Horry County intends on passing a new 1% tax county-wide, residents of the towns of Loris, Conway, Aynor, and the unincorporated areas of Carolina Forest, Garden City, and Socastee will now largely fund the I-73 project.
If taken, actions by the three coastal towns will make it virtually impossible for Horry County to honor its contract with SCDOT, signed last December.