Tonight Horry County Council will vote on whether the county should use $350 million in Hospitality Tax dollars to fund I-73 from the county line to the coast. The money would be allocated at $4.2 million per year.
Rural Horry County voters want those dollars appropriated to widening Highway 90, Widening 701, Widening 378 in Horry County, and fixing rural roads.
Key state legislators have told MyrtleBeachSC News that state funding for I-73 will not be coming.
Governor McMaster is asking the General Assembly to use state surplus dollars to fund the 6 miles running from I-95 to Highway 501 north of Marion, S.C.
However, the state of South Carolina is on notice from the U. S. Department of Transportation that it must upgrade Interstate 95 from the North Carolina border to the Georgia border. Included in the requirements from the federal government are additional lanes and bridge repair/replacement, all of which are extremely costly items.
SCDOT said the I-95 improvements are the number one project for the agency since failure to meet the federal requirements would cost the state federal highway funds.
ANOTHER CONUNDRUM – POOR CUSTOMER RETENTION
Brad Dean, former C.E.O. of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber, told all local news channels before he left for Puerto Rico that only 31% of tourists returned to the City of Myrtle Beach annually.
2021 was a record year for Myrtle Beach city tourism. Covid restrictions on international travel caused domestic destinations to see huge increases.
Despite over $50 million in annual tax gifts to the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, only 30% of city tourists return.
WHO IS THIS ROAD FOR?
With a 30% tourist retention rate, the City of Myrtle Beach has made no funding promises for this road to date. Yet it is their Chamber of Commerce promoting the need for the road.
County residents, by a 60% margin, do not want these funds allocated to this road.
TONIGHT’S VOTE WILL BE A TELL
With no state funding, and no city funding pledged, voters will be able to clearly identify which County Councilmen are in the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber’s pockets tonight.
As Paul Gable of the Grand Strand Daily writes: Six council members, Chairman Johnny Gardner and council members Harold Worley, Bill Howard, Tyler Servant, Orton Bellamy, Johnny Vaught and Al Allen are up for reelection next year.
It is safe to say any one of the above seven members of council who vote to pass the funding resolution will face opposition and significant challenges to being reelected next year.