Post Tagged with: "Alan Clemmons"

Horry County Legislative Delegation Hospitality Bill Will Not Serve County Citizens Interests

November 25, 2019 3:35 AM
Travis Bell Photographers

A bill to amend South Carolina law on hospitality tax, pre-filed November 20, 2019 by four members of the Horry County legislative delegation, will not serve the general interests of Horry County citizens if it ever becomes law.

The bill, H 4745, sponsored by Reps. Alan Clemmons, Heather Ammons Crawford, Russel Fry and Tim McGinnis, is specifically designed to collect approximately $43 million per year in hospitality fee revenue specifically for the Interstate 73 project.

The bill was pre-filed one day after Horry County Council voted unanimously to cancel its Financial Participation Agreement with the South Carolina Department of Transportation. The agreement would have funded I-73 at up to $25 million annually.4745 is an expansion on a bill, H. 4597, filed just before the legislative session for 2019 ended last May. H. 4597 was filed after the cities filed a lawsuit against the county to stop collection of the 1.5% countywide hospitality fee within the limits of the respective municipalities in the county.

H 4745 is an expansion on a bill, H. 4597, filed just before the legislative session for 2019 ended last May. H. 4597 was filed after the cities filed a lawsuit against the county to stop collection of the 1.5% countywide hospitality fee within the limits of the respective municipalities in the county.

Both bills are designed to allow Horry County to resume collecting the 1.5% ‘legacy’ hospitality fee. Horry County is the only county in the state that has continuously collected the 1.5% countywide ‘legacy’ hospitality fee until stopped by the lawsuit.

The need for the second bill appears to be that H. 4597 allows the 1.5% hospitality fee revenue to be used on all the tourism related purposes as defined in S.C. Code of Laws Section 6-1-730. Those purposes include police, fire, emergency medical services, roads, highways, streets and bridges and recreation facilities which are tourism related.

The second bill limits uses of the hospitality fee revenue to interstate infrastructure, interstate interchanges and roads that directly connect to an interstate until no viable interstate highway projects remaining in the county.

Read more ›

Horry County Council Votes Unanimously to Cancel I-73 Contract

November 19, 2019 8:18 PM
Horry County Council Votes Unanimously to Cancel I-73 Contract

Horry County Council voted unanimously at its regular meeting Tuesday night to cancel the Financial Participation Agreement with the South Carolina Department of Transportation that would have provided funding for the Interstate 73 project.

The agreement was approved by council during a special meeting held on November 28, 2018 and signed by former county administrator Chris Eldridge on December 13, 2018. Former council chairman Mark Lazarus led the charge to get the agreement signed before he left office December 31, 2018. Lazarus and Eldridge were the two foremost proponents of having the county enter into the agreement with SCDOT.

In addition, Lazarus and Eldridge were instrumental in orchestrating the elimination of a sunset provision from the county’s hospitality fee legislation earlier in 2018 in order to direct revenue to I-73.

But it all began to fall apart in March 2019 when the City of Myrtle Beach sued Horry County over continued collection of hospitality fees after the bonds for the first RIDE projects were paid off, an action the city called illegal.

Last spring, Horry County Council approved a resolution to refund hospitality fee revenue collected within the municipal boundaries to the respective cities where it was collected. The resolution included a proposal for the municipalities and the county to provide some funding for I-73 with percentage contributions from each agency in line with the percentage of the total amount of hospitality fee revenue each city received.

The cities dismissed that resolution out of hand.

Now, the cities and the county are considering a settlement agreement to the lawsuit with virtually the same terms with the exception that the cities will be on the hook to pay their attorneys 33% of the refunded revenue, approximately $7 million.

The blame for the cancellation of the I-73 agreement can be laid directly at the feet of Myrtle Beach and the other cities that joined in the lawsuit and refused to accept virtually the same settlement they are now considering.

Several county council members, including Chairman Johnny Gardner and council members Harold Worley and Johnny Vaught made exactly the point that the cities could have had the same settlement without paying such large attorney fees by accepting the resolution in the spring. It must also be noted the I-73 contract would not have been cancelled if the cities had taken this action.

Read more ›

High Drama Surrounds County’s I-73 Agreement with SCDOT

March 14, 2019 2:55 AM
High Drama Surrounds County’s I-73 Agreement with SCDOT

High drama surrounded a recent decision by the Horry County Council Infrastructure and Regulation Committee to consider changes and/or cancellation of the Financial Participation Agreement the county signed with SCDOT last December for the Interstate 73 project.

Like many issues in the political arena these days, this one included its share of drama queens heightening and confusing the discussion while voicing veiled threats about possible state government retaliation should local government officials significantly alter or cancel the agreement.

According to local council members who spoke with Grand Strand Daily, Reps. Russell Fry and Alan Clemmons as well as former representative and current Myrtle Beach Chamber lobbyist Mike Ryhal quickly took to phone calls and texts when they heard of the planned I&R discussion earlier this week.

Their collective message, reportedly, was leave the agreement alone or face the possibility of the General Assembly altering current state law to remove control of hospitality and accommodations tax revenue from local governments in favor of control in Columbia.

Ever since July 2017 when former county council chairman Mark Lazarus and members of county government senior staff led council down the path to partial funding of the I-73 project by removing a sunset provision from the county’s hospitality tax law, this controversy has been inevitable.

Despite massive propaganda efforts through the years by the Chamber and a few elected officials about the necessity of I-73 to provide a connection to Interstate 95, local residents have remained unconvinced of the purported benefits of the project.

Many of those who cried the loudest – the Chamber, Clemmons and U.S. Congressman Tom Rice – have been collectively unsuccessful at acquiring funding for the project at the state and federal levels.

Read more ›

County Council Votes Hospitality Tax Funds for Public Safety and I-73

July 27, 2018 4:10 AM
County Council Votes Hospitality Tax Funds for Public Safety and I-73

Last Tuesday’s special meeting of Horry County Council provided some interesting insights into ongoing deliberations about the future use of hospitality tax revenue.

Technically called a hospitality fee by Horry County Government, the two and one-half percent tax is collected on all tourist accommodations, prepared foods and attraction tickets sold throughout the county. The revenue is split with one cent per dollar going to the jurisdiction (municipality or unincorporated county) in which it is collected.

The remaining one and one-half cent per dollar goes to the county to pay off Ride I bonds. Those bonds are expected to be paid off in the first half of calendar year 2019.

A sunset provision was placed on the one and one-half cent per dollar tax, when legislation implementing the tax in Horry County was passed, providing that portion of the tax would end when the bonds were paid off.

County council voted in Spring 2017 to remove the sunset provision and extend the tax indefinitely. The one and one-half cent per dollar tax is expected to generate $41 million revenue in calendar year 2019.

When the sunset provision was removed by a three reading ordinance of county council last spring, council chairman Mark Lazarus stated he would like to use the revenue to fund construction of Interstate 73. The projected revenue would have allowed the county to bond approximately $500 million for a 20-year period to help fund the I-73 project. It is expected completion of the I-73 portion from I-95 near Dillon to U.S. 17 in Myrtle Beach will cost approximately $1.2 billion.

This spring, Johnny Gardner challenged Lazarus for the Republican nomination for council chairman on the November 2018 general election ballot. During the primary campaign, Gardner focused on the public safety and infrastructure needs of the county, proposing using a portion of hospitality tax revenue to help meet those needs. Gardner won the nomination in June 2018 primary voting.

Read more ›

Richardson Rolls To GOP Nomination

July 18, 2018 7:16 AM
Richardson Rolls To GOP Nomination

Ken Richardson was the heavy favorite of voters Tuesday as he captured 71 percent of the vote in the Republican primary special election for Horry County School Board Chairman.

Incumbent school board member Janice Morreale gathered 20 percent of the vote to finish a distant second with former Patricia Milley completing the field at 9 percent.

Richardson will face political newcomer Democrat Heather Johnson in the November general election.

Richardson’s campaign centered on safety in the schools, transparency of board decisions and strict oversight of the school district budget.

The Richardson victory continues a recent trend of incumbents with serious opposition in the primaries falling by the wayside.

Last month challenger Johnny Gardner bested incumbent Mark Lazarus for the Republican nomination for Horry County Council Chairman and William Bailey defeated incumbent Greg Duckworth for the GOP nomination for  SC House District 104. The Richardson victory completed the Trifecta Tuesday night.

What is particularly interesting is all three incumbents had significant help from other incumbents during the primary campaigns.

Lazarus had the endorsement of at least 10 of his 11 fellow county council members as well as endorsements from the coastal mayors and members of the county legislative delegation. State legislators Heather Ammons Crawford and Russell Fry ran the Lazarus campaign.

Duckworth had the active support of fellow legislators Alan Clemmons, Greg Hembree, Fry and Ammons Crawford, as well as North Myrtle Beach Mayor Marilyn Hatley, contacting voters to push Duckworth reelection.

Morreale, the current school board member for District 5, had a group of her fellow school board incumbents actively contacting voters to push her candidacy.

Read more ›

Election Change Is In the Air

June 24, 2018 9:39 AM
Election Change Is In the Air

(Ed. Note – The picture with this story is of a Facebook Post by Heather Ammons Crawford, which started the entire “Union Thugs” commentary in the closing days of the Lazarus campaign.)

Defeating an incumbent politician used to be a most difficult undertaking in South Carolina politics. Now it’s almost becoming the norm in Horry County.

Two out of three incumbents on the ballot lost in Myrtle Beach last fall. An incumbent fell to a write-in candidate in Surfside Beach earlier this year.

The latest round of primaries on June 12th saw a state legislator and a long-time school board member go down to opposition. Bill Howard was able to just hold off challenger Dean Pappas in the only contested Republican primary that went to an incumbent. The irony of that race is that newly elected Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune came out late for Pappas and her endorsement may have hurt Pappas in the final days because Bethune has quickly sided with what is considered the establishment in Myrtle Beach even though she was a candidate for “change” in the fall.

Challenger William Bailey took out incumbent Greg Duckworth in the Republican primary for S.C. House District 104. Challenger Helen Smith defeated incumbent Pam Timms in the Horry County School Board District 6 Republican primary. Smith is a former school board chairman in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, but probably half of today’s registered voters weren’t living in the county when she last left office so she qualifies as a change candidate.

Read more ›

Recount Confirms Gardner Win, Lazarus Concedes

June 17, 2018 7:01 AM
Recount Confirms Gardner Win, Lazarus Concedes

Five days after winning the election for the Republican nomination for Horry County Council Chairman, Johnny Gardner was “recertified” as the winner over incumbent Mark Lazarus by the Horry County Election Commission.

After the S.C. Election Commission approved an audit of the final tally of the votes, the certified result of the election was announced at 11:41 a.m. Saturday June 16, 2018, as Gardner 12,426, Lazarus 12,313, a margin of 113 votes.

The count also included the race for House District 104 where William Bailey received 2,312 votes to 2,295 votes for incumbent House member Greg Duckworth.

Shortly after a mandatory recount confirmed both results, Lazarus called Gardner to concede the election. Gardner said Lazarus was very professional and gracious with his words when he conceded.

Gardner was initially certified as the winner two days ago with an automatic recount scheduled for the next day. When people returned for the recount, they were told that another 209 votes had been found in machines from the Ocean Forest 2 precinct.

This announcement began one and one-half days of confusion, bordering at times on chaos, before the local election commission received approval of an audit of the votes from the state election commission.

During the interval, James Wiles, who told commissioners he was “representing the Lazarus campaign”, gave the members a sheet of paper which he called a “Freedom of Information request” and said the campaign objected to recertification of the results.

“I am prepared to start discovery to see if there should be a protest,” Wiles added.

According to all the information I could find on Wiles, he was suspended by the Pennsylvania Bar Association in 2005 and is not a member of the South Carolina Bar Association. He can certainly act as a private citizen representing himself before the election commission, but what status he had “representing the Lazarus campaign” and “prepared to start discovery” is open to question.

Read more ›

7th Congressional District GOP Convention Report

April 11, 2016 4:40 AM
7th Congressional District GOP Convention Report

The 7th Congressional District GOP Convention held in Florence on Saturday April 9, 2016, to select a new 7th C D Chairman, Vice Chairman and Secretary as well as Republican National delegates (6) to the National Convention in Cleveland on July 18-21 2016 at the “Q” Arena, was hectic.

There is no question Horry County who had 39 voting delegates with 3 alternates (42 total) who attended, came home with only 2 elected National delegates–Alan Clemmons delegate and Gerri McDaniel alternate.

Meanwhile Florence County, who only assembled 23 attending delegates, received the lion share of National delegates and an alternate. There’s no question that the members of the delegation from Florence out maneuvered Horry County as they pooled their votes, having only 6 people running and had 3 delegates making it to the top.

Horry County had 19 delegates running, which cut into its vote count. Consequently no one received more than 20 votes. Hard ball won the day. The other National delegate went to Jerry Rovner of Georgetown who is the present chairman of the 7th CD. With regards to Clemmons and McDaniel they had the good fortune of getting some votes from other delegates.

Some of Horry’s convention attendees are blaming Chairman Robert Rabon for the blow out. To be fair it is NOT Rabon’s fault, and anyone suggesting or saying it is just doesn’t know the facts. Prior to the meeting Chairman Rabon urged the Party members who were going to go to Florence, to only select 6 delegates and as such with 39 voters; the 6 that were chosen would have won handily.

Rabon tried to caution the delegation about this, but it landed on deaf ears. Hopefully, Horry County will learn from this experience and be better organized in the future; no one enjoys losing especially when they are holding all the aces.

At the opening of the meeting at 10:15 AM the chairman of the 7th C D Jerry Rovner gave a extra-ordinary powerful message, one of which was right on point, the essence of which was:

Read more ›

S.C. Ridiculous Second Amendment Education Act

December 29, 2014 10:00 AM
S.C. Ridiculous Second Amendment Education Act

One of the most ridiculous prefiled bills for this year’s General Assembly legislative session proposes to establish a Second Amendment Education Day in South Carolina schools.

Sponsored by House representatives Alan Clemmons, Richard Yow and Garry Smith, the bill (H3023), if passed, would establish December 15th of each year as Second Amendment Awareness Day.

It also would require three consecutive weeks of instruction on the Second Amendment each grading year from a curriculum developed or adopted by the National Rifle Association.

Read more ›

Council Chairman Mark Lazarus Correct on I-73

November 14, 2014 4:00 AM
Council Chairman Mark Lazarus Correct on I-73

Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus was absolutely correct recently when he said the proposed I-73 should not be included with RIDE III projects.

Lazarus was responding to comments made by local state Rep. Alan Clemmons (R-107) who is trying to keep I-73 in the discussion about what road projects will be paid for with local sales tax.

Clemmons continues to push the myth that I-73 will be a huge job creator for the local area, a myth based on a “faulty” study commissioned by the Northeast Strategic Alliance (NESA) several years ago. The myth was debunked by several other independent studies.

Read more ›