By Paul Gable
An intensive study of documents provided by Coast RTA, SCDOT and the City of Myrtle Beach have brought to light discrepancies between the agencies about what exactly happened with the shelter project and associated funds.
It is obvious from studying the documents why Horry County Council chairman Mark Lazarus established an ad hoc Select Committee on Coast RTA to take an in-depth look at the project.
Presentations made before the Select Committee, at its April 7, 2014 meeting, by both SCDOT and Coast RTA indicate that 73 shelters were purchased by Coast RTA. Of these, 15 shelters were installed by Coast RTA for its use. After nine years, SCDOT cancelled the project and the remaining 58 shelters were inventoried and auctioned by GovDeals.com.
The Waccamaw Council of Governments, the agency through which the initial grant for purchase and installation of the shelters occurred, repurchased the remaining 58 shelters at auction for a price of $7,510 for, perhaps, use by Coast RTA in the future.
However, statements made about the shelter project to the Select Committee on April 7th are not supported by documents obtained from Coast RTA, SCDOT and the City of Myrtle Beach.
Discrepancies exist between SCDOT and Coast RTA records regarding the number of shelters initially purchased and the number purchased in total. In addition, discrepancies exist with regard to who paid for 10 of those shelters as well as their installation costs and intended use.
According to City of Myrtle Beach records, the city paid Coast RTA for the purchase and installation of 10 shelters at various locations throughout the city, none of which appear to coincide with Coast RTA bus routes either past or present.
In answers to questions from GSD, the city replied, “We paid Coast $50,000 for the purchase and installation of 10 bus shelters at the locations I provided earlier. These shelters are intended for school children and had been contemplated in the city’s Capital Improvements Project list for some time. The city ultimately worked through Coast for these shelters because Coast had shelters available and the cost to the city would be less.”
Signs on the shelters purchased by the city say, “This facility is for students using Horry County School buses. All others will be considered trespassing.”
However, the locations for the 10 shelters purchased by the city correspond to 10 locations in Coast RTA records for which Coast RTA claims ownership of the shelters and appears to have been reimbursed by SCDOT for their purchase and installation.
With the above revelations of apparent discrepancies in the records of the project and two months of study by the committee, committee chairman Marion Foxworth should be looking for definitive answers as to how many shelters were purchased and installed for actual Coast RTA use, who paid for the shelters and installation and how many times.