By Paul Gable
The arrival of property tax bills for City of Myrtle Beach residents recently put another mark in the strike column against the accuracy of messaging from the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.
A visit to the website “tourismworksforus.com”, which the Chamber uses to justify its continued receipt of tens of millions of public dollars mainly from the Tourism Development Fee (TDF), clearly shows a statement that no longer applies today.
Under the heading “What do you get for your money as a resident of the City of Myrtle Beach”, the statement, “For the current 2020-21 fiscal year, the TDF provides a 76 percent credit toward city property taxes,” gives a false impression of current facts.
The current fiscal year, 2022-2023, tax bills show the TDF credit now applied toward property taxes is 67.5%. This tax credit applies only to owner-occupied dwellings. As the number of owner-occupied homes continues to increase within the city limits, which the current construction boom guarantees it will, the tax credit percentage applied toward each individual tax bill will continue to decrease. Even with the TDF credit, the amount of property taxes paid out of pocket by city homeowners will rise.
As a matter of degree, this impression that the TDF provides a 76% property tax credit to city homeowners when the actual percentage is 67.5, is not as egregious in its falsity as the brochure on the need for Interstate 73, put out earlier this year by the Chamber. Nor is it as egregious as the statements made by Chamber CEO Karen Riordan to Horry County Council several months ago that businesses voluntarily elect to contribute part of their Chamber dues to the Grand Strand Business Alliance when those contributions are automatic unless businesses specifically elect to opt out or the press conference production by the Chamber about Gov. Henry McMaster announcing $300 million in state funding for I-73, which never came to fruition.
It is not too much to ask for a private business that relies so heavily on public funding, as the Chamber does, to be open, transparent and accurate in its messaging to the public. Otherwise, the messaging falls to the level of propaganda, which should result in the termination of public dollar support.