By Paul Gable
This week will see several local governments, particularly Myrtle Beach and Horry County, in budget workshops as next year’s revenue and spending is considered.
If you have never seen the local budget process in action, you should consider at least watching some of the workshop meetings on local cable television or live streaming on the internet.
After all, it’s your money they are spending and services for you they are supposed to be providing.
Much of the discussion will be on the agencies’ respective general funds. Those are the funds that pay for public safety, public works, administration and so forth.
For each agency, approximately 65% of general fund expenditures are for personnel pay and benefits.
However, the respective general funds are not the only budget areas that affect local citizens.
The Horry County Solid Waste Authority, which is a component unit of Horry County Government, is asking for a $7 per ton increase on the cost of dumping municipal solid waste (household garbage) at the Highway 90 landfill.
If county council approves a rise in the SWA MSW tipping fee, every household and business in the county will be paying more for garbage disposal.
The City of Myrtle Beach parking fees, which go to the Downtown Redevelopment Corporation and are currently helping fund the taking of businesses through the use of eminent domain, are a problem for all county residents.
Another longer term dip into the wallets of all those who buy anything in Myrtle Beach will occur when city council decides to extend the city’s one-cent local option tourism tax (tourism development fee). A vote from city council on a 10 year extension of the tax is expected after the November city elections.
This is a tax that provides the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce with $20 million or so public tax dollars to spend on out-of-area advertising that generally benefits only the large hotel and golf course owners at the expense of small business and citizens.
This decision should be watched carefully as county and city accommodations tax collections have been in decline since 2014.
We hear every year “it’s working” but the number of tourists staying in hotels is declining.
Get more knowledgeable about what your local governments are doing. A good place to start is becoming familiar with the respective local government budgets.