Post Tagged with: "North Myrtle Beach City Council"

County Ditches Masks, Cities Hold Firm

October 21, 2020 7:58 AM
County Ditches Masks, Cities Hold Firm

Horry County Council Tuesday night voted against passing a new emergency ordinance that would have included and extended requiring the wearing of face masks in public settings or another sixty days.

As a result of the county vote, face mask requirements in the unincorporated areas of the county will halt at midnight October 30, 2020 (the time the current emergency ordinance ends).

At the extreme opposite end of the emergency spectrum, North Myrtle Beach city council voted to extend the requirement to wear face masks in public settings “until the Covid emergency ends,” whenever that may be.

Both councils voted unanimously, North Myrtle Beach to extend the requirements, the county to not pass a new emergency ordinance. However, it appeared there was confusion among county council members who wanted a new emergency ordinance enacted. Immediately after the 12-0 vote, council member Harold Worley made several attempts to have a new mask ordinance voted on. Ultimately, council voted 8-4 to not reconsider the vote on whether to pass a new emergency ordinance with Worley, Gary Loftus, Bill Howard and Dennis DiSabato (those whose districts include Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach and the county areas adjacent) voting for reconsideration.

Somewhere in the middle lies Myrtle Beach at this time. The Myrtle Beach emergency ordinance and face mask requirement currently ends October 30, 2020. However, the last time the ordinance was extended, it was done so with a declaration by Mayor Brenda Bethune and City Administrator John Pederson, not a vote of council. There is no reason to believe these two will not extend the requirements beyond the present October 30 date.

The face mask vs no face mask issue has been framed as one between individual liberty and government interference in what should be personal decisions.

What hasn’t been discussed in the local debate is that no real enforcement of face mask requirements has been made by any public safety entity in the county. Indeed, each of the local governments has admitted they do not have the resources to enforce face mask provisions.

These admissions bring up the question, why pass an ordinance that nobody enforces?

It is better to take the county approach of encouraging the wearing of face masks but not requiring it. The decision should be left up to the individual.

Read more ›

North Myrtle Beach and Tourism

February 14, 2018 4:15 AM
North Myrtle Beach and Tourism

The beaches and the upcoming Tourism Development Fee referendum in North Myrtle Beach have hit the pages of local media recently.

The beaches must be protected from the potential dangers of offshore drilling and they must be routinely renourished in order to keep tourism viable in the city, according to recent articles.

Many arguments against the TDF were enumerated in a recent op-ed by a North Myrtle Beach resident. Unfortunately, the writer was arguing against the example of how Myrtle Beach has chosen to implement the TDF rather than how it can be positively applied in North Myrtle Beach.

There is no question that tourism is the lifeblood of all the coastal communities along the Grand Strand. In many ways, North Myrtle Beach has set an example that the others should strive to follow.

The business community has done a good job of advertising with its own dollars, promoting the North Myrtle Beach brand as a safe, clean, family friendly location.

The city has added to this effort by providing quality public safety services, stormwater outfalls to keep bacteria levels near the beaches low and other infrastructure that benefits both local citizens and tourists alike.

Properly used, the TDF, if approved, could be used to supplement these private and public efforts to keep the city competitive in the family friendly tourism market.

According to state law, from the second year onward, the TDF revenues can be split 80% for out of area tourism marketing and 20% to the city for property tax relief and/or tourism related public safety, infrastructure and other similar projects. The decision on the split and how the city portion is spent rests solely with the city council.

It was proposed in the above mentioned op-ed that it would be nice to be able to apply all of the revenue from the one percent fee totally to public safety, infrastructure and the like.

In fact, this was attempted by a bill submitted by Sen. Greg Hembree last year (S.426). Called the Municipal Tax Relief Act, this bill proposed a one-cent sales tax on all taxable purchases in the city that would go to city coffers to offset some of the demands on property tax revenues.

Read more ›

NMB Takes Proper Approach to Tourism Development Fee

February 1, 2018 4:39 AM
NMB Takes Proper Approach to Tourism Development Fee

North Myrtle Beach is to be commended on taking what many consider the proper approach to deciding whether to institute a tourism development fee (TDF) in the city.

City Council decided it was appropriate for the residents of North Myrtle Beach to decide whether a TDF is to be collected. Therefore, a referendum on whether to approve the TDF is scheduled for March 6, 2018 in a stand-alone vote.

The role of the city ends with the decision to hold a referendum. No government body, personnel or equipment may be involved in the campaign, according to state law. Individuals who are government personnel may only support or oppose the referendum question on their own time outside of government facilities and not as part of their official duties.

State Law Sec. 8-13-765 states in part, “No person may use government personnel, equipment, materials, or an office building in an election campaign,” and “This section does not prohibit government personnel, where not otherwise prohibited, from participating in election campaigns on their own time and on nongovernment premises.”

If approved, the TDF is a one percent fee charged on all purchases in the city to which state sales tax applies. Items such as food, rent/mortgage and medicines are exempted.

If approved, 80% of the revenue collected from the fee will be given to a marketing organization, usually the local Chamber of Commerce, to promote tourism from out-of-area locations. The remaining 20% goes to the city for things such as owner-occupied property tax rebates, public safety, parking and other infrastructure or similar types of city expenses.

From statements made recently to media, it appears the city will use the state mandated minimum (4% of the total revenue) to apply to property tax rebates to owner-occupied properties. The remaining 16% of revenues will be used for other city initiatives.

This approach is the best because it shares the benefits of the fee to the largest number of citizens, rather than keeping it for just a small percentage of the population.

A significant portion of the revenue will come directly from tourists and the city’s portion of the revenue can offset some of the costs to the local economy from the tourism industry.

Read more ›

Greed is Good Fever Strikes North Myrtle Beach

July 29, 2016 5:28 AM
Greed is Good Fever Strikes North Myrtle Beach

It appears ‘greed is good’ fever has struck in North Myrtle Beach as the city considers implementing a one-cent tourism development fee (tax) to follow in the footsteps of Myrtle Beach.

If there is one governmental entity I wouldn’t think other governmental entities would want to copy, it is Myrtle Beach City Council. But, never mind.

The North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce wants North Myrtle Beach city council to copy Myrtle Beach city council in implementing a tax on private citizens to pay for business marketing.

The Chamber evidently believes the money belongs to it rather than to the citizens. Consider the following quote by former Chamber board chairman Bill Griste in a letter to North Myrtle Beach City Council.

“We feel that leaving this significant and large amount of marketing revenue unused would not be a wise move for the City of North Myrtle Beach, nor would be good stewards of this resource.” Bill Griste

Think about that quote for a minute. The resource Griste is talking about is money in the pockets of citizens – A “significant and large amount,” according to him.

Being good stewards apparently means taxing the citizens to pay for the marketing costs of private business. In other words, the Chamber advocates corporate welfare as good stewardship of private dollars – A very interesting concept in a supposedly conservative area.

By that logic, allowing citizens to keep any of their hard earned money, instead of taking it all in taxes, means the government is not being good stewards of the resource (private dollars).

Sorry, I forgot, these aren’t “taxes” they are “fees”. It’s irrelevant that they are charged on the purchase price of items at the checkout counter.

Read more ›

It’s Tax Time Again

April 24, 2016 11:10 AM
It’s Tax Time Again

Spring means many things, but to local governments it means tax time, or consideration of whether to raise taxes or not.

One year after Horry County Council passed the largest tax increase in county history, the cities of Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach are looking to follow suit.

Both city councils are considering a property tax increase and increases in other fees that could significantly impact citizens and businesses.

To be fair, some of the reasons for the tax increase can be directly attributed to the General Assembly. This can be thought of as an indirect tax on citizens from Columbia.

Two areas come to mind quickly, the refusal of the General Assembly to fully fund the Local Government Fund and the need to make up billions of dollars of shortfall in the public pension funds.

The Local Government Fund is a return of state taxes, which is supposed to reimburse local governments for expenditures on state mandated agencies included in local budgets. The General Assembly, however, prefers to pass annual exemptions in order to underfund this return of tax dollars to local communities.

In this way, the General Assembly can appear to be holding the line on taxes while blaming the local governments for tax increases. Never mind that the state laws requiring these agencies came from the same body that refuses to live up to its mandated level to fund them.

The General Assembly is looking to increase the percentage local governments must contribute, per employee, for all employees included in the various state pension plans. This increase would take the local agency contributions from the current 8.16% of an employee’s annual salary to 11.5% of that salary.

I would submit the increase is needed because the General Assembly has refused to perform its fiduciary oversight responsibilities of the SC Retirement System Investment Commission.

Read more ›