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S.C. Supreme Court Rejects Ruling – Throws Out Case

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Brenda Bethune
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On his way out the door, Myrtle Beach City Chief Bureaucrat John Pedersen is having a winning week.

Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune is as well.

The S.C. Supreme Court threw out a hospitality fee settlement agreement between Horry County and the city of Myrtle Beach today. The City of Myrtle Beach appealed the October ruling of Judge Seals and, by all accounts, won the appeal today.

Wrote Judge Seals in October, “The court finds that while the South Carolina Bar Foundation has laudable goals including low cost or no cost legal representation, the Hospitality Fee in this case was paid by tourists, vacationers, and residents alike with the expectation that the moneys would be used only for tourism related purposes,” according to the Seals’ court filing.

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The city wanted and now will likely get $6 million in fees for the S.C. Bar Foundation. Under the cities’ proposal, a “common fund” will likely be created, allowing people who had been unlawfully charged the fee to present receipts showing that they were due reimbursement. All monies in the common fund after six months will be divided evenly between the cities and the S.C. Bar Foundation, the charitable arm of the S.C. Bar Association.  The S.C. Bar is now scheduled to receive $6 million.

It is likely that few residents will have the receipts on hand to make claims. Few claims are expected to be refunded to the general public. The real winners here are the lawyers (the S.C. Bar Foundation).

“I’d just like to see the thing get settled so we don’t waste any more money in legal fees,” Horry County Councilman Harold Worley told MyHorryNews. “There’s been enough wasted.” Other councilmen agreed.

ONE WEEK – TWO BIG WINS

As MyrtleBeachSC News reported yesterday, this win comes on the heels of the work around Myrtle Beach City Council, Mayor Bethune, and Pedersen achieved through the efforts of One Grand Strand.

For more than a decade, City of Myrtle Beach leaders privately stated they felt held hostage by the owners of the land that once housed the pavilion. Downtown redevelopment remained in a stalemate.

Largely funded by a private downtown hotel group, One Grand Strand pieced together a plan that focuses redevelopment attention away from that parcel. READ MORE

The Command Economy City of Myrtle Beach is now fully in the driver’s seat for all things redevelopment and all things commerce downtown Myrtle Beach.

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The first week in December was a record week for a clever bureaucrat.

After the city was shut down by Mayor Bethune last Spring, the large land holder was caught in a precarious and vulnerable position. Retail tourism has been the most devastated sector of the economy as a result of covid. The owners of the old pavilion site also own Broadway at the Beach and Coastal Grand Mall. The two retail locations are historically huge revenue generators for the firm.

City Manager John Pedersen was scheduled to retire in November. His retirement is eminent, but he is going out with a bang.

Only history can record how these events affect the town long term.

While Horry County officials are resigned to their fate, the temperature between Horry County and the City of Myrtle Beach could not get any hotter.

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David Hucks is a 12th generation descendant of the area we now call Myrtle Beach, S.C. David attended Coastal Carolina University and like most of his family, has never left the area. David is the lead journalist at MyrtleBeachSC.com

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