A voter referendum option is on the bill, which local residents are requesting city council to enforce.
Myrtle Beach area residents were fuming on Thursday with news of Wednesday’s General Assembly vote to extend an existing tourist tax. The tax is projected to cost locals and tourists $300 million over the next 1o years. The tax was set to expire in 2019. The tax is paid by both tourists and locals alike.
80% of those funds go directly to the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce for advertising.
The vote was an override of Governor Nikki Haley’s veto of bill H5011 last Friday May 27th. The law was first enacted in 2009. The law has paid the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce well over $120 million over the past 6 years. Residents are upset. They believe these dollars are not being well spent.
Learning of the news late this afternoon, local resident Steve Houser said, “Enough is Enough!” Houser then promptly went online and put up a petition to the bill’s sponsor, Luke Rankin.
Early this morning, MyrtleBeachSC.com asked several local Horry County residents how they felt about the new law. Most were not aware the bill had been passed.
Al Garavito, an area local said, “This is what is wrong with politicians and our city. The voters are sick and tired of this mess. Luke Rankin must go!”
“Why was this not put up as a mandatory referendum for the voters?“, asked local resident, Paula Harris. “We now have our big government shenanigans at the local level, and some big changes must be made.”
Mary Harwood, a well informed local voter said, “It is concerning that Luke Rankin prefers to push legislation through the S.C. Senate without allowing citizens a mandatory referendum or a vote on more new taxes. It seems to be a regular occurrence with Senator Rankin. It’s even more concerning that the media will not address this issue as it concerns every resident of Horry County.”
MyrtleBeachSC.com reached out to both Senator Luke Rankin and Cody Adams, of the Scott Pyle for Senate Campaign, today.
Adams told us, “While Scott has no issues with the tax itself, he does believe in transparency and that the voters should have a say in this matter. District 33 voters want to believe that their Senator is willing to include them in the process. Voters have had six years to evaluate the performance of this tax. Scott believes they certainly should have a say in whether they do or don’t want this tax extended.”
Senator Luke Rankin did not respond to our request for comment on the issue.
A referendum option is on the bill, which local residents are requesting city council to enforce. A second option to make the bill law allows for a Myrtle Beach city council 2/3rds vote. Most residents we spoke with were unhappy with that option. They believed such amounted to a rubber stamp.
Governor Haley is expected to visit Myrtle Beach tomorrow. “It is my belief that local tax increases – whether they are fees, property millage, or local option taxes – should be allowed only if the citizens subject to the tax agree to it through public referendum,” Haley said
Haley said that arguments by supporters that the extension was needed for tax relief was “misleading,” because 80 percent of the funding is spent on tourism marketing and promotion.