Post Tagged with: "public safety"

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.

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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.

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Mayor John Rhodes Hits New Low in Political Blame Game

October 30, 2017 4:10 AM
Mayor John Rhodes Hits New Low in Political Blame Game

Politics reached a new low in the current Myrtle Beach election campaign when Mayor John Rhodes trashed the firefighter who shot the video of the Father’s Day shooting on Ocean Boulevard during a recent mayoral candidate debate.

There is no doubt the mayor, city council members and the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce panicked when video of that shooting went viral on Facebook. It illuminated Myrtle Beach’s dirty little secret that crime is on the rise in the city for all of America to see.

The Father’s Day shooting was not an isolated incident, regardless of how much city leaders would like you to believe otherwise.

During this campaign, Rhodes has blamed “fake news” for giving the city a bad image on social media, thereby, potentially hurting tourism.

But, Rhodes really sank deep in the mud when he defamed the man who took the video from a hotel room on Ocean Boulevard.

“The gentleman who took the film was a fireman that was here on a firemen’s convention,” Rhodes said during the debate. “He was a sworn officer that was supposed to respond to people in trouble and injured. He was so busy taking the film that he never did what his job called for him to do and that was to respond to injured people on the boulevard.”

Here’s how clueless Rhodes is:

It is nationwide policy that emergency personnel WILL NOT enter an active shooter scene until the scene is cleared and secured by law enforcement personnel.

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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 Tax Explosion

June 17, 2015 7:00 AM
Horry County Council Tax Explosion

It is now official, the tax and spend Republicans on Horry County Council passed the largest tax increase in a generation last night.

Nothing changed from the budget that passed at second reading. There will be a countywide tax increase of 7.2 mils more for the general fund. The countywide road fee increased from $30 to $50 per vehicle and county building permit fees increased.

The Republican “Gang of Five” who voted to increase taxes consists of chairman Mark Lazarus, and council members Al Allen, Johnny Vaught, Bill Howard and Gary Loftus. Democrat James Frazier made the sixth vote in the 6-5 decision.

Of the six members who voted for it, five (all but Loftus) were elected to their current terms in November 2014, so it will be over three years before they have to face the voters for reelection. There is speculation Loftus may not be planning to run again so his term ending next year may not matter in having to answer for being a tax and spender.

Despite campaign pledges to “oppose new taxes”, “keep property taxes low”, “listen to the taxpayers” and support TEA Party goals, Lazarus, Vaught, Howard and Allen (respectively) make the term conservative Republican virtually extinct in Horry County and, in their particular cases, an oxymoron.

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Horry County Council Tax Increase

May 1, 2015 9:15 AM
Horry County Council Tax Increase

As Horry County Council continues talks on next fiscal year’s budget, a large increase in county taxes will be part of the deliberations.

According to county sources familiar with budget planning, a tax increase of approximately 6.3 mills for the county’s general operating fund is being considered by Horry County Council.

The plan amounts to a 17.7% increase in county tax millage for the general operating fund, which is expected to bring in an additional $13-$15 million in new tax revenue.

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Horry County Council and Police Funding

March 20, 2015 8:00 AM
Horry County Council and Police Funding

One of the most important items Horry County Council will study at its budget retreat next week is future funding for the Horry County Police Department.

Council chairman Mark Lazarus recently directed county staff to study the possibility of establishing a special purpose tax district for police funding, similar to the method in which the Horry County Fire Department is funded.

The results of that study are expected to be ready for the Horry County Council budget retreat.

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Mark Lazarus on Paying for Police Services

March 12, 2015 9:30 AM
Mark Lazarus on Paying for Police Services

During a council workshop Tuesday, Horry County Council chairman Mark Lazarus warned of a future tax increase to pay for increased needs for police services.

“As we continue to grow, the issues at public safety are going to continue to grow,” said Lazarus. “We’re going to need more personnel and it’s going to grow at a faster pace than our income is growing.”

Lazarus directed staff to study the possibility of establishing a special tax district in the unincorporated areas of the county to fund the police department similar to the way Horry County fire department personnel and equipment are currently funded.

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Myrtle Beach City Council Must Broaden Policing Focus

August 19, 2014 7:00 AM
Myrtle Beach City Council Must Broaden Policing Focus

Myrtle Beach City Council held an executive session yesterday to discuss safety and security planning for Memorial Day weekend.

That’s great, but it’s only a small part of the public safety problem in the city.

While the Myrtle Beach City Council is looking for better ways to control crowds during Memorial Day weekend, it must not forget it has a growing year around policing problem.

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Mustang Week 2014 Mayhem

July 21, 2014 7:15 AM
Mustang Week 2014 Mayhem

Another popular rally, Mustang Week in Horry County, has come firmly on the radar of Horry County officials after actions associated with the 2014 gathering.

There were reportedly over 2,500 cars and their owners in the Horry County last week celebrating that most American of automobiles, the Ford Mustang.

However, with popularity of social media and the apparent desire of a number of drivers for their 15 seconds of fame, the event is now under scrutiny by the Horry County Public Safety Committee.

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