Post Tagged with: "I-73"

Proper Expenditure of Hospitality Tax Revenue

July 12, 2017 10:22 AM
Proper Expenditure of Hospitality Tax Revenue

A suggestion for the use of hospitality tax revenue was made at Tuesday night’s Horry County Council meeting that makes too much sense to ignore.

In a discussion of New Business, council member Paul Prince spoke about the poor conditions of many roads in the county as well as some need for advance planning in adding additional lanes to Hwy 90, Hwy 905 and roads extending off of those two.

Prince suggested meeting with the Horry County legislative delegation and governor Henry McMaster to find some funds to help with these roads.

Council member Harold Worley suggested spending the “two and one-half percent” on the roads. Worley’s reference was to the county’s hospitality tax.

Governments supposedly collect taxes in order to provide public goods and services. Think here roads, bridges, police, fire and mass education.

Hospitality tax is a little different in that state law requires hospitality tax revenue to be spent on tourism related expenses.

When hospitality tax was first approved by county voters in a county wide referendum, one percent of the total was designated to the government jurisdiction in which it is collected while one and one-half percent was designated to pay off bonds for Ride I projects.

The Ride I bonds are expected to be paid off on or before 2019. The one and one-half percent designated to those bonds brings in revenue of approximately $38 million per year to Horry County.

While it may take a little tweaking of state law to spend all of that revenue on the county road system, it is hard to argue that tourists do not use virtually all of the roads in that system. In addition the tax revenue could be spent on necessities such as public safety.

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Horry County Council’s Hospitality Fee Slush Fund

April 24, 2017 5:21 AM
Horry County Council’s Hospitality Fee Slush Fund

Horry County Council is within one ordinance reading of establishing a permanent slush fund for pet projects using 60% of Hospitality Fee collections countywide as the revenue source.

A 2.5% hospitality fee tax is collected on prepared foods and drinks, admissions and lodging throughout the county.

Forty percent of the revenue (1% of the total 2.5% tax) is returned to the original jurisdiction (incorporated areas or the county for unincorporated area collections) in which the tax is collected. The remaining 60 percent of the revenue (1.5% of the total 2.5% tax) goes to Horry County specifically to pay off bonds issued for Ride I road projects.

Some of those bonds will be paid off in 2017 with the remaining bonds projected to be paid off in 2019. When the Hospitality Fee legislation was passed over 20 years ago, county council established a sunset provision for the 1.5% portion pledged for bonds.

In other words, 60 percent of the Hospitality Fee was supposed to go away when those Ride I bonds were paid off.

But, once a tax is created, government hates to see it destroyed.

Therefore, county council is moving rapidly to remove the sunset clause and allow the full 2.5% tax to be collected ad infinitum. According to county administrator Chris Eldridge, this tax currently collects approximately $38 million in revenue to the county annually.

To put that amount into perspective, $38 million is approximately 25 percent of the county’s general fund budget for Fiscal Year 2018, which begins July 1, 2017.

The revenue from this tax would not go directly into the general fund. According to state law, it must be spent on tourism related projects.

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Roads, Taxes and Ride III

January 9, 2015 9:00 AM
Roads, Taxes and Ride III

Several groups in Horry County are already making plans to oppose a Ride III referendum.

While specific reasons for opposition differ among the groups, they can all be gathered under the general umbrella of opposition to special interest projects.

One group opposes spending any money on the I-73 folly. Another opposes the SELL road on the south end of the county and a third opposes using Ride III money for the rerouting of U.S. 501 in Myrtle Beach.

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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.

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No TIGER Grant for Interstate 73

September 16, 2014 6:00 AM
No TIGER Grant for Interstate 73

Interstate 73 was not among the list of TIGER grant recipients announced late last week by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The S.C. Department of Transportation had requested $30 million to widen the shoulders on S.C. 22 to bring the road up to interstate standards so it could be redesignated I-73.

The USDOT didn’t think the project worthy of funding. Except for a few members of the local legislative delegation and a few tourism leaders, neither does anyone else.

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Fiscally Responsible Alternative to I-73

November 30, 2013 12:00 PM
Fiscally Responsible Alternative to I-73

The I-73 project is back in the news as our local group of politicians is hoping to get a permit for the project from the federal government.

In these economically difficult times, fiscal responsibility, less spending, smaller government and lower taxes, is the refrain being sung by “conservative” politicians. If this is such a good idea, is it too much to ask our local politicians to practice what they preach, especially when it applies to big government projects like I-73?

Since the mid-1990’s, local politicians and business leaders have been saying the Grand Strand needs an interstate highway connection in order to sustain and build tourism. If you don’t believe it, just watch the advertisements, paid for by the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, on local television stations telling us just that. If they say it, it must be so.

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The I-73 Contradiction

October 23, 2013 7:05 AM
The I-73 Contradiction

Gov. Nikki Haley was in Horry County Monday pumping the benefits of the I-73 project and her re-election campaign.

Speaking to the Coastal Carolina Association of Realtors, Haley said I-73 is hugely important for this area.

It’s so important she said someone else would have to pay for it because the state wasn’t about to.

And that is the crux of the I-73 contradiction.

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Gingrich, Myrtle Beach, Oil and Interstates

May 3, 2013 7:03 AM
Gingrich, Myrtle Beach, Oil and Interstates

Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and presidential candidate Newt Gingrich was in Myrtle Beach earlier this week to push an initiative for oil and gas drilling off the coast of South Carolina.

Gingrich spoke at a forum of oil and gas industry representatives who want Congress to allow exploratory drilling and development of possible offshore oil and gas resources.

One of the issues at the forefront of talks about oil and gas drilling off the U.S. coast is the number of high paying jobs such economic activity will bring to the area.

If those types of jobs would become available, it would certainly help the Horry County area which consistently ranks dead last in average worker income among the 335 largest counties in the nation.

The irony here is that wage levels in Horry County have been consistently depressed because of the tourism industry. It’s just over 50 years ago that Horry County business leaders met with then Sen. Strom Thurmond to stop plans for extending I-20 to the coast. They worried an interstate would bring industrial development that would rob them of low wage workers in the hotels, restaurants and tobacco fields in the county.

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Carolina Southern Railroad and Horry County

February 28, 2013 8:00 AM
Carolina Southern Railroad and Horry County

Carolina Southern Railroad and Horry County officials appear to remain far apart on any plan to get the railroad back in operation.

Service on portions of the rail line was voluntarily suspended by Carolina Southern Railroad officials when new federal regulations, especially on bridges, went into effect in the summer of 2011. Those service interruptions directly affect Horry County.

Since then, the railroad has been searching for funding with which to make the repairs. It joined with Horry County in two unsuccessful applications for discretionary railroad infrastructure TIGER grants from the federal government.

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Tourism Development Fee Tales

February 9, 2013 12:00 PM
Tourism Development Fee Tales

The Tourism Development Fee, otherwise known as the reverse Robin Hood tourism ad sales tax, is again in the news as Myrtle Beach city and Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce officials continue to attempt to justify it.

They speak of capital improvement projects and reduced property tax for owner occupied homes in the city as well as possibilities of extending the tourism base for local business.

What we don’t hear about is how the motel and restaurant owners were able to decrease their advertising budgets in excess of 90 percent, allowing them to put more money in their pockets, while the maids, waitresses and bus boys they pay minimum wage to pay more tax.

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