In 2017, Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus (and county council) extended a 1.5% Hospitality Tax into perpetuity.
At the time, MyrtleBeachSC news wrote, “This tax is being extended illegally. Chairman Lazarus chose to do this without consent from the voters. This works against the best interests of the county at large.“
Former Myrtle Beach Area Chamber C.E.O. Brad Dean, countless Myrtle Beach City leaders, and Myrtle Beach city insiders excoriated our writing as “anti-tourism and anti I 73.”
Fast forward 2 years, Brenda Bethune is Myrtle Beach Mayor. Johnny Gardner is Horry County Council Chairman.
Horry County chooses to sue the city of Myrtle Beach for the $20 million the city collected, but never put towards a school in the Market Common district. The county claims those funds, already collected by the city, rightfully belong to Horry County Schools.
Duplicity has no bounds
Shortly afterward, the City of Myrtle Beach sues Horry County. Myrtle Beach now claims the Hospitality Tax was extended illegally in 2017. The city of Myrtle Beach sues Horry County for the $60 million that the county has collected since 2017, when Lazarus extended the tax. The City of Myrtle Beach demands that all negotiations for the suit must be done entirely behind closed doors. Current County Council Chairman Gardner refuses to negotiate privately.
Horry County Attorney Arrigo Carotti hires outside legal council “Henri” Henrietta Golding to represent Horry County. Golding has a long history of representing the City of Myrtle Beach.
Waiving a white flag
Over the past weekend, Carotti sends out the following email to Horry County Council: “We [Horry County] basically are in damage control mode. I see the overriding problem as Myrtle Beach’s claim for monies collected (and almost all already spent) between January 1, 2017 and February 15, 2019, approximately $60M ($60 million). If the city would waive that claim, I, for one would recommend giving up the future revenue, and believe Council already is at that point, ” Arrigo Carotti.
NO HONOR AMONG THIEVES
While Lazarus was busy extending an illegal $41 million annual tax into perpetuity without consent from his colleagues on the coast, the City of Myrtle Beach was duplicitous in sponging off $20 million away from Horry County schools and local taxpayers.
Carotti’s confession above is a clear indication that Horry County has been outmaneuvered and out-lawyer-ed. County Council wants to cut a deal.
THE GRAND COMPROMISE COSTS EVERYONE WHO IS NOT ELECTED
The chances that the City of Myrtle Beach will get what it has wanted all along looks more promising now than ever.
It should be clear to anyone paying attention that the city wants full amnesty on legally stealing $20 million from Horry County Schools.
How many petty thieves who rob a liqueur store or gangsters who rob a bank get away with such? And yet, when this news breaks in full view of 400,000 county residents, it will likely be announced in a whimper with relief from all elected leaders who played a part in creating this embarrassing episode.
Likely Fall Guy
Current Horry County Chairman Johnny Gardner is this insider group’s, and many current county councilmen’s hand picked and chosen “fall guy” for the entire affair.
Watch as the news unfolds. Chances are likely Gardner will take the hit on this embarrassing front page chapter in Horry County’s history, while the thieves laugh all the way to the bank and prepare for the next election cycle.