By Paul Gable
Coast RTA is asking Horry County Council to give specifics in writing defining “good faith effort” as it relates to the council’s prior request for increased representation on the Coast RTA board.
This request for increased representation held up initial approval, by council, of FY 2014 fourth quarter funds for Coast RTA of approximately $263,000.
The population of the Coast RTA board is determined by current state law. County council currently gets to approve one board member, council member Gary Loftus at this time.
County council would like to appoint three members to the Coast RTA board, which it believes to be in line with its grant contributions of approximately $1.06 million per year (six-tenths of a mill) to the Coast RTA budget.
However, in order for council to appoint more than one member of the Coast RTA board, a change must be made in state law governing regional transportation authority board appointments. The law governs all such agencies throughout the state, not just Coast RTA.
Coast RTA Executive Director Myers Rollins and several board members met with members of county council as well as members of the county’s legislative delegation to determine what steps must be taken to attempt to change state law.
County legislative delegation chairman Nelson Hardwick promised an effort, backed by our delegation, to make the necessary changes in state law to allow up to three board appointments by county council.
But, there are no guarantees a change will be made and Coast RTA relies on the county’s $1.06 million per year in order to garner matching federal grants.
A 2010 advisory referendum garnered 62.5% “yes” votes from Horry County voters to give Coast RTA .6 mill (six-tenths mill) annually from the county budget as a grant to Coast RTA’s operating budget.
So why does county council seem to be putting new roadblocks up to continuation of this grant funding if Horry County voters approved the use of their tax dollars, in grant form to Coast RTA, by an almost 2 to 1 margin?
That’s the $1 million question that, so far, county council has not answered. But, it does seem that because the referendum was “advisory” instead of “binding” council feels it can ignore the results if it wishes.
Frankly, council never believed the referendum would pass, which gave it an easy out to deny that level of funding.
But it did, the voters spoke at the ballot box and council now appears to be grasping at straws for other reasons to deny funding.
The move by Coast RTA to ask for the definition of “good faith effort” in writing is a good one, considering council’s apparent reticence to continue that level of funding.
Hopefully, council will not respond by asking Coast RTA to spend $865,000 lobbying state legislators, as the Horry County Solid Waste Authority did to try and influence state legislation on ‘flow control’.
I wouldn’t expect that but one never knows, do one?