Post Tagged with: "COAST RTA"

Additional Funding for Coast RTA

December 5, 2016 5:42 AM
Additional Funding for Coast RTA

The message from last week’s Horry County Transportation Committee meeting was Horry County Council would search for ways to provide additional funding for Coast RTA.

The transportation agency currently receives $1.055 million annually from the county’s general fund budget. According to remarks by council chairman Mark Lazarus, Coast RTA would like that amount to rise to approximately $1.9 million per year.

In addition, Coast RTA wants to spend a total of approximately $16 million on capital improvements for the system over the next several years. It should be noted, all of this money does not have to come from the county or other local government funding sources. The federal government provides 80% funding for capital expenditures with a 20% local match.

Still, $3.33 million must come from some form of local funding for these capital projects to be realized.

“We’ve got to figure out how to fund them,” Lazarus said during the meeting.

Lazarus said Horry County Administrator Chris Eldridge was investigating ways to provide Coast RTA with recurrent funding. Lazarus said a one-cent local option sales tax was one possibility that would be looked at.

During the discussion, Lazarus made one comment I didn’t understand. He said state law prohibits the use of (property tax) millage from being used to fund transportation.

However, property tax millage is exactly what is being used now and has been for years to provide Coast RTA with annual grants from Horry County.

An additional one-cent sales tax is unacceptable, in our opinion. A one-cent tax was just approved by voters for RIDE III last month. If a sales tax is the preferred way to fund Coast RTA, it should have been included in the list of projects for RIDE III, a perfectly acceptable use of RIDE funds if it had been included in the project list.

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The New Horry County Transportation Committee

August 31, 2015 5:00 AM
The New Horry County Transportation Committee

The Horry County Transportation Committee held its inaugural meeting Thursday.

Appointed by Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus, after the Airport Advisory Board was discontinued several months ago, the committee members are Gary Loftus, Chairman and Johnny Vaught, Bill Howard and Lazarus.

The committee will provide initial oversight of issues for the full council on airports, Coast RTA and the railroad.

With the railroad sale now completed, R.J. Corman, the new owners, are clearing the track in preparation of fixing the line and bridges so that the portion in North Carolina to the SCDOT bridge across the waterway at Myrtle Beach can be opened for traffic.

Lazarus said Corman wants to open the track as quickly as possible for service to those former users and possibly new economic development opportunities associated with rail freight.

In time, it is possible that special passenger excursions, dinner trains, and the like will be run from Myrtle Beach to Conway, but that is for the future.

The largest undertaking over the next several months will be committee involvement with a comprehensive airport master plan for the county’s four general aviation airports – Myrtle Beach International, Grand Strand in North Myrtle Beach, Conway and Loris.

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Horry County Council Budget Resolutions

July 7, 2015 6:30 AM
Horry County Council Budget Resolutions

Horry County Council will consider two resolutions at its meeting tonight to complete this fiscal year’s budget process.

The resolutions will be to approve funding agreements with the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation for two years and with Coast RTA for one year.

These votes will be the final acts of contempt toward county taxpayers in a budget year that brings the largest property tax increase in a generation.

Led by the Republican ‘Gang of Five’ (Mark Lazarus, Al Allen, Johnny Vaught, Gary Loftus and Bill Howard), Horry County Council chose to raise property taxes by 7.2 mils ($13.5 million) without even considering during budget considerations whether funding should be cut for the MBREDC and Coast RTA.

Of course, MBREDC and Coast RTA funding weren’t the only possible savings in a $130 million general fund budget that could have been looked at.

It was just easier for the Republican ‘Gang of Five’ to raise taxes than to go through the details of the budget.

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Horry County Council Budget Failures

June 23, 2015 5:00 AM
Horry County Council Budget Failures

The latest development at MBREDC indicates how casually Horry County Council approached raising taxes this year.

Jim Moore, President and CEO of the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation, resigned from that agency Monday.

Moore came to MBREDC only six months ago after the three plus year dismal reign of Brad Lofton. During the four year period represented by these two, MBREDC allegedly reorganized itself with a new approach to attracting jobs to Horry County.

Neither Moore nor Lofton was any more successful in economic development recruitment than the former iteration of MBREDC or Partners Economic Development Corporation before it.

The difference is the current four year MBREDC 2.0 has been receiving serious funding from Horry County Council, between $1.3 million to $1.8 million per year of taxpayer dollars, with little to nothing to show for it.

Think of AvCraft, Project Blue and PTR Industries as the poster children of MBREDC efforts.

Over the past five county budget cycles, MBREDC has received at least $7.5 million from Horry County Council to fund its few employees and other operational costs.

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Overseeing Horry County Department of Airports

April 28, 2015 7:00 AM
Overseeing Horry County Department of Airports

Oversight of the Horry County Department of Airports may change based on an ordinance that will be considered by the county’s Administration Committee.

The ordinance, if approved by Horry County Council, would eliminate the Horry County Airport Advisory Board.

The Airport Advisory Board is appointed by Horry County Council. It meets once a month to provide input and recommendations to council about airport matters.

In the past, the Airport Advisory Board has been a rubber stamp for airport staff and Horry County Council, especially on issues like new terminals at Myrtle Beach International Airport. Frankly, it failed to perform its advisory oversight mission.

More recently, however, it was questions by several board members that led to not tearing down portions of the old terminal complex at the airport.

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Coast RTA 4th Quarter Funding Approved

April 22, 2015 6:00 AM
Coast RTA 4th Quarter Funding Approved

Coast RTA will receive its 4th quarter funding from Horry County despite not completing some required tasks in its funding agreement with the county.

However, if Horry County Council comments Tuesday night were any indication, it is still unclear if Coast RTA will receive the same level, or any, funding from the county in the new fiscal year that begins July 1, 2015.

By an 8-3 vote, council followed the suggestion of council chairman Mark Lazarus to release 4th quarter funding “for the public’s benefit, for riders and for employees (of Coast RTA).”

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Coast RTA Funding Problems Continue

April 8, 2015 8:00 AM
Coast RTA Funding Problems Continue

If perception is reality in politics, Coast RTA funding from Horry County is in deep trouble.

That is the perception I have after watching last night’s Horry County Council meeting.

It centers around one huge public relations gaffe and several shortfalls on the part of Coast RTA.

It’s not a good thing when the chairman of Horry County Council says to Coast RTA representatives “it’s almost as if we don’t exist up here” and “that board (Coast) is not taking this county council seriously.”

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Coast RTA Funding in Jeopardy

March 29, 2015 5:00 AM
Coast RTA Funding in Jeopardy

Funding for Coast RTA was almost removed from the Horry County budget for next fiscal year during last week’s Horry County Council budget retreat.

A motion to remove funding from Coast RTA was made and seconded and was only stopped by the intervention of council chairman Mark Lazarus.

Lazarus convinced his fellow council members the most recent Coast RTA update on its funding agreement with Horry County should be heard by the Administration Committee before a vote to remove the agency funding is considered.

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Horry County Budget Workshop Next Week

November 7, 2014 7:00 AM
Horry County Budget Workshop Next Week

Horry County Council will begin deliberations for its FY 2016 Horry County budget next Friday at a workshop and specially called council meeting.

Now that elections are over and several new council members are poised to join the governing body in the new year, we will see just how “conservative” our heavily Republican contingent on council really is.

My guess is the cronyism that has justified what I consider wasteful council spending in certain areas will continue to manifest itself.

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Coast RTA Moving Forward Despite Distractions

September 29, 2014 8:00 AM
Coast RTA Moving Forward Despite Distractions

As Coast RTA has attempted to move forward since terminating former General Manager Myers Rollins, it has been subjected to what appears to be a campaign further discredit the agency.

This is not unusual. When a public agency makes the headlines with negative publicity, there is a tendency for some to pile on, especially if they have personal agendas.

The agency has problems, most seriously with its bus fleet which has been allowed to deteriorate while things like island ferries were discussed under the Rollins regime.

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