Post Tagged with: "dual taxation"

County Response to City Lawsuit Follows Recent Pattern

April 23, 2019 7:56 AM
County Response to City Lawsuit Follows Recent Pattern

Horry County’s response to the lawsuit over hospitality fees filed last month by the City of Myrtle Beach follows a pattern the county has used in recent years when it is challenged in court.

That pattern is to launch a subjective attack on the opponent rather than argue objective facts of the case.

The county claimed SkyDive Myrtle Beach committed 112 safety violations and was running an unsafe operation at Grand Strand Airport. To date, neither the county Department of Airports nor the Federal Aviation Administration has yet to produce documentation of even one safety violation but SkyDive Myrtle Beach has been closed down since 2015.

The county claimed Horry County Treasurer Angie Jones mismanaged her department and fired employees in order to provide openings for political allies. The county’s counterclaim called for Jones to personally bear responsibility for any shortfall in her department funding, of which there was none.

In its answer to the city’s lawsuit, Horry County claims Myrtle Beach has mismanaged its budget for years and “now attempts to circumvent state law to shore up its own finances.”

Obviously the county’s claim that the city has mismanaged its budget is a subjective political one as well as being erroneous. One guide to effective budget management is bond rating. The city’s bond rating is AA, the same as the county’s.

On the basis of the city’s original complaint and the county’s response, the city appears to have the better legal argument to this non-lawyer observer.

The county’s claim of budget mismanagement on the part of the city appears to have no more validity than the false allegations of wrongdoing made by county attorney Arrigo Carotti and former administrator Chris Eldridge against Chairman Johnny Gardner. The county’s tendency to create a narrative then try to claim it as fact is too repetitious to be accidental, but it is not a legal argument.

The city’s initial act to claim all hospitality fee revenue collected within the city limits and the county’s attempt to extend a countywide 1.5% hospitality fee collection ad infinitum are the starting point of this dispute. The cities of North Myrtle Beach and Surfside Beach followed Myrtle Beach’s lead with new hospitality fee ordinances.

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City Has Potential Nuclear Option in Parking Fee Issue

March 30, 2017 3:39 PM
City Has Potential Nuclear Option in Parking Fee Issue

The City of Myrtle Beach holds a potential nuclear option that could blow up the current parking fee debate between the city and Horry County into a much bigger and more explosive issue.

Nuclear options in political discussion come in various categories. One we hear about often is a threatened change in U.S. Senate rules that could effectively prohibit filibusters.

However, the nuclear option that Myrtle Beach appears to hold could change taxation for many residents within the county, both inside and outside the city limits.

A little background:

The city and county have been at odds over parking fees and areas they are charged in Myrtle Beach city limits.

Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus has addressed city council on several occasions attempting to reach some type of compromise that would allow county residents to pay $100 per year for a parking decal that would allow county residents to park at all city owned paid parking locations.

To date, the city has been reluctant to adopt Lazarus’ plan.

Personally, I don’t believe any of the city’s parking fees are justified, especially because they go to fund the Downtown Redevelopment Corporation, a notoriously underperforming enterprise.

In response to the city’s reticence, county council voted last week to not include $200,000 for the city’s planned museum/library complex and $30,000 specifically for Chapin Memorial Library in the county budget. The city requested both amounts.

At Tuesday’s Myrtle Beach City Council meeting, council member Mary Jeffcoat requested city staff to prepare a review of the amount of property tax revenue city residents pay to the county and what services city residents receive as a result of those taxes.

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Myrtle Beach Parking Fee Flaws

September 25, 2016 6:18 AM
Myrtle Beach Parking Fee Flaws

The more parking fees for non-city residents are discussed by Myrtle Beach City Council, the more flaws come to light in the distorted arguments of council members.

Since instituting parking fees along the “Golden Mile” strip of the oceanfront in July, city officials have heard increasing complaints from county residents and business owners.

The parking fees appear to violate deed restrictions included when Myrtle Beach Farms transferred company owned land to the city along the oceanfront. This violation not only applies to parking areas charging fees along the Golden Mile, but also to the many areas in the south end of the city where parking fees have been charged for a number of years.

One of the deed restrictions states, “…property shall not be used for commercial purposes by any person, private corporation, municipal corporation or agency of government.”

At a community forum last week where the parking issue was addressed, several city council members tried to argue that parking fees charged by the city are not a commercial venture. Instead, the arguments framed the fees as ‘more of a tax.’

However, taxing citizens for using city owned property is also a commercial venture. To argue any differently is to attempt to cloud the issue with semantics.

Mayor John Rhodes, reportedly, offered the possibility of selling parking decals to local, non-city residents for $300 per year. Rhodes said the $300 would equate to what city residents pay to the city in vehicle taxes each year.

This is ridiculous on several levels. I submit $300 equates to the average city tax paid on vehicles multiplied by a factor of five.

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Horry County Sheriff Referendum Appears Dead

June 8, 2016 5:27 AM
Horry County Sheriff Referendum Appears Dead

It appears that decisions have been made out of the public eye that no referendum will be put to the people on whether to consolidate the Horry County Police Department and Horry County Sheriff’s Department.

An advertisement for applications for the position of police chief was posted recently on the Horry County website.

This would not have been done if there was any chance Horry County Council would vote to authorize a referendum on whether the two departments should be consolidated.

Sources familiar with the views of council members say there are only two votes among council members that would support placing a referendum before the voters.

There appeared to be a majority opinion among county residents that the Sheriff’s Department should take over HCPD in order to fix it. One wonders why county council members are so out of contact with the citizens they represent.

With the decision to forego a referendum and hire a new chief, the responsibility for fixing the many problems at HCPD rests squarely on the shoulders of Horry County Council members.

If the voters approved consolidation of the two departments, something I believe would have happened if a referendum were held, it would have solved another potential problem for Horry County Government that it has strived to ignore through the years.

The problem is one of dual taxation where residents of the various cities within Horry County pay tax millage to fund HCPD while not getting the benefit of police services from the county police.

HCPD is currently funded from the county’s general fund from county wide millage collected from property owners throughout the county.

HCPD is currently funded from the county’s general fund from county wide millage collected from property owners throughout the county.

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