Local Resident Rights leader says End Tourist Tax in a blistering address.
TOURISM DOWN 43% June 2016
Residents say improve the Myrtle Beach brand before giving money to the Myrtle Beach Chamber.
With tourism down city-wide over 40% this June 2016 Residents Rights leader, Ann Dunham addressed the mayor and city council this week asking them to end the tourist tax immediately. In a blistering address, Mrs. Dunham went through the shady way the tax first came into law. Local politicians each received $24,000 after they first passed the law by a 2/3rds city council vote in 2009. Mrs. Dunham also addressed the sparse coverage local media has given this topic. Every local Corporate News outlet receives huge subsidies from this tourist tax.
In an override of Governor Haley’s veto, the South Carolina General Assembly voted this month to allow the city of Myrtle Beach to extend the tax to 2029 by either a voter referendum or by two thirds majority vote of city council. Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes told the local Sun News earlier this month that trusting the voters with a referendum would be, in his words, “a gamble.” In 6 years, the tax has never produced any growth in tourism despite costing visitors $120 million.
Mrs. Dunham called the tax unjust, saying that it robbed the poor and subsidized the rich. She produced numbers showing the tax hurts retail sales. Mrs. Dunham told city council she believed the measure would be passed by city council majority vote after the November 2017 Mayoral and city council elections were held.
Research provided by the Residents Rights group show the Myrtle Beach area is growing at only 6% through March of this year. Mrs. Dunham said that counties not charging the tourist tax were growing at a more rapid retail sales rate. Examples: Charleston County 7.1%, Florence 16.6%, and Richland 11.4%. Mrs. Dunham pointed out that state wide retail sales growth was at 8%.
We spoke with an area property management company yesterday who told MyrtleBeachSC.com that business inside the city limits of Myrtle Beach was down between 43% to 53% in room rentals this June depending upon the property. The owner stated that water quality issues were among his customers’ chief concerns. High crime in downtown Myrtle Beach was also a key concern.
Residents Rights members inside of Market Common, Pine Lakes, Carolina Forest, and the Grande Dunes have told MyrtleBeachSC.com that they would prefer city government put money towards accelerating beach bacteria solutions before handing those funds over to Brad Dean and the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.
Recent reports have shown that over 47% of chain businesses inside of Carolina Forest are charging this Tourist Tax. The tax, by law, is only legally supposed to be charged inside the city limits of Myrtle Beach.
The average resident in Carolina Forest makes less than $40,000 annually.
HOWEVER: The 990 tax forms show Brad Dean’s salary increases over the years since this tax was first implemented. For example, in 2008 he was making $134,765 to run the chamber. He got a salary bump to $160,988 the following year and then — after the Tourist Tax passed — his pay soared to $285,217. That was a whopping 77.2 percent raise!
His salary continues to increase with each year:2011 — $297,7532012 — $353,1382013 — $404,009The powers that be were getting a little embarrassed by all those pay raises by 2014, so they split his salary between the chamber and the Myrtle Beach Commerce Center, the chamber’s for-profit advertising machine. In 2014, Brad made $309,342 from the chamber. We are not sure what he got from the commerce center because their tax filings aren’t public.Bottom line, you could say his pay more than tripled in the years after the tax was passed.
While Carolina Forest residents continue to be taxed illegally, the city just this week asked the county to allow them to annex county oceanfront property South of Springmaid beach, so they could put up more parking meters.
The county has balked on that request.
Mrs. Dunham informed city council that Residents Rights members would be at every city council meeting until this matter was resolved.
MyrtleBeachSC.com reached out to Mark Kruea, Public Information Officer, all of city council and the mayor for a response to the Residents Rights request. None responded.
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