Post Tagged with: "county ordinance"

County Says No to Secret Negotiations on Hospitality Fees

March 29, 2019 8:30 AM
County Says No to Secret Negotiations on Hospitality Fees

Horry County Council members have given a resounding NO to holding secret negotiations with representatives from the municipalities about hospitality fees and possible funding for I-73.

The City of Myrtle Beach proposed discussions behind closed doors by sending a confidentiality agreement to the county and the other seven municipalities in Horry County. The city is trying to couch any discussions on hospitality fees as a resolution conference with regard to the lawsuit it recently filed against Horry County over the subject. The city said S.C. Rules of Procedure Section 408 applies to the discussions.

In the very best interpretation of the city’s position, this is a stretch.

The city filed its lawsuit against the county claiming the county’s continued collection of the 1.5% portion of the hospitality fee beyond January 1, 2017 is illegal. The complaint was structured in a way that a class action lawsuit (municipalities v the county) could be requested.

However, to date no other municipality has joined the lawsuit and no judge has certified a class action.

Therefore, any negotiations that includes representatives from other than Myrtle Beach and Horry County couldn’t truly be considered a dispute resolution conference as it would include third parties not currently included in the lawsuit.

More importantly, any discussions about dividing public tax revenues or spending public tax dollars for public projects by public agencies should be held in the open.

What appears to have happened is Myrtle Beach jumped the gun on the hospitality fee issue. It hurried a city ordinance through two readings in order to capture all hospitality tax, 2% on just prepared food and beverages, allowed under current state law, collected by the city to remain in Myrtle Beach tax coffers.

Myrtle Beach next filed its lawsuit against Horry County claiming the original hospitality tax ordinance passed by Horry County with consent of the cities in late 1996 expired on January 1, 2017. The original ordinance placed a 2.5% tax on all accommodations, prepared food and beverages and tickets sold within the county. Of that, 1.5% collected countywide was specifically designated to pay off the bonds for the Ride I projects.

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Horry County Council’s Cowardly Road Decision

September 8, 2016 5:06 AM
Horry County Council’s Cowardly Road Decision

Horry County Council took the coward’s way out from making potentially controversial decisions when it passed third reading of a county road maintenance ordinance Tuesday night.

In passing the ordinance, council shifted the decision making process to county staff on which roads currently maintained by the county should be removed from further maintenance with county tax dollars.

The excuse is the county is maintaining some roads that are actually driveways or serve no public benefit.

There’s no question taxpayer dollars should not be spent on private driveways or other roads that do not generally benefit county taxpayers.

But what exactly is a public benefit?

In the past, county council allowed private gates to restrict access to public roads in the Myrtle Trace sub-division. Those roads were paved and maintained by the county but restricted to use by sub-division residents only.

When that issue was exposed in the media, Horry County Attorney John Weaver attempted to justify that it was perfectly legal to restrict access on public roads.

Ultimately, Myrtle Trace residents agreed to remove the roads from the county system and maintain them privately. But, that decision only came after the roads were repaved with county tax dollars one more time.

Council member Al Allen was correct in his criticism of county council being taken out of the decision to remove roads from county maintenance.

It takes a majority vote of county council to accept roads into the county road maintenance system. Why should it take a decision of only a few members of staff to remove roads from that same system?

Allen said the idea behind county staff making the determination of which roads to remove from the county road maintenance system was to take the politics out of the decision.

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Committee Guarantees Independent Horry County Police Department

June 27, 2016 10:30 AM
Committee Guarantees Independent Horry County Police Department

In a neatly orchestrated discussion to reach a predetermined conclusion, the Horry County Public Safety Committee determined an independent Horry County Police Department would remain the rule in the county.

Said in a slightly different way, there will be no opportunity for the voters to express themselves through a referendum on whether to merge the police department with the Horry County Sheriff’s Department because council is unwilling to give them the opportunity.

Horry County Attorney Arrigo Carotti told the committee it would require a three reading ordinance of council followed by a binding voter referendum to merge the departments.

Carotti said the ordinance had to be passed by August 15, 2016 in order to appear on the November 2016 general election ballot. Carotti said there was only one meeting of Horry County Council before the August date and special called meetings of council were only intended to address urgent issues between council meetings.

Obviously, there is no urgency on the part of council to allow the voters the opportunity to vote on the issue of a merger.

Carotti said low voter turnout consistent with special elections, the other possible alternative for a referendum, would not give a fair representation of the wishes of voters on the issue.

By that logic, there should not be any primary elections nor special elections for vacant offices because the wishes of the voters are not fairly represented by the 10 percent or less of voters who turn up at the polls to vote in them.

You can see this is not an issue that council is willing to take to the voters and this little dog and pony show was carefully designed to avoid that possibility.

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Impressment of Private Ambulances by Horry County

January 28, 2015 10:43 AM
Impressment of Private Ambulances by Horry County

The Horry County Public Safety Committee heard a proposed ordinance from Horry County Fire/Rescue Department to require private ambulance services to enter into franchise agreements with the county.

The private ambulance services would be on call to Horry County, as needed, to supplement the county’s publicly owned and operated EMS units.

According to Fire/Rescue Chief Fred Crosby, there are 28 private ambulance services operating within the county. Approximately five of those are certified by SCDHEC for emergency services. The remainder operate basically non-emergency transport services often contracted with nursing homes.

The proposed ordinance would require all 28 private companies to enter into a franchise agreement with Horry County in order to remain in business within Horry County.

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