Despite pleadings from Myrtle Beach Area Chamber C.E.O. Karen Riorden, former Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus, and SCDOT Commissioner Tony Cox, Myrtle Beach City Council voted unanimously today on a first reading of an ordinance that will terminate a 1.5% tax the city has been paying to Horry County.
Both City Manager John Pedersen and Mayor Pro-Temp Mike Chestnut equally said the vote had nothing to do with I-73.
The vote, however, kills the funding necessary for the county to honor its contract with SCDOT, which Lazarus “strong armed” into existence just days before leaving office.
The 1.5% tax will now be collected and spent inside the city of Myrtle Beach. The town rolled out its idea of downtown redevelopment at the same meeting. That redevelopment features non tax revenue generating, city owned facilities that include a children’s museum, a library, a theater, and many new city government structures.
Estimates are that the tax will bring in approximately $5 million dollars in new taxes to the city.
Former County Chairman Mark Lazarus, MBACC C.E.O. Karen Riorden, and SCDOT Commissioner Tony Cox warned city council that this vote will effectively kill the SCDOT contract and, also, future plans for I-73.
Mayor Brenda Bethune was absent for the vote. She is a close ally of Mark Lazarus.
With this vote, county residents believe the city of Myrtle Beach only continues to alienate itself from the rest of Horry County.
We reached out to Pat Dowling, Public Information Officer, of North Myrtle Beach. It is unclear at this time if the other coastal cities of North Myrtle Beach and Surfside Beach will continue to pay the 1.5% hospitality tax County Council extended in 2017.