By Paul Gable
Watching the last several months of county council deliberations, one must wonder why there is such disparate treatment between Coast RTA and the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation by our elected officials.
The MBREDC was at county council Tuesday night pushing its $60 million, 15 year funding proposal with a presentation on how the money would be used to try to entice businesses to the area.
A resolution to restore Coast RTA’s FY 2014 fourth quarter funding was pulled off the county council agenda.
The MBREDC already gets more tax dollars from Horry County on an annual basis than Coast RTA ($1.3 million vs. $1.06 million) and those numbers are contingent on Coast RTA getting all the money it was budgeted in the current fiscal year.
Coast RTA received the support of 62.5% of the voters in a 2010 advisory referendum for annual funding of 0.6 mills (six-tenths of a mill) from the county’s general fund. MBREDC funding was increased by county council vote in FY 2012 with no public referendum required.
The Coast RTA referendum was a ‘stand-alone’ referendum while MBREDC wants to be included in a referendum for RIDE III funds if council will not, on its own, vote a 1.75 mill tax increase to fund the MBREDC proposal.
Coast RTA has increased its ridership over the last decade and done away with ‘pie in the sky’ projects like the monorail in Myrtle Beach. The EDC has given us AvCraft and Project Blue as examples of its economic development prowess.
Yet, MBREDC gets a much more sympathetic ear from county council than Coast RTA. There is definitely a difference. Is it because the MBREDC board is much more politically connected that the Coast RTA board?
Does the difference in treatment touch on economic issues? The Coast RTA ridership is much lower on the economic scale than those who would benefit from the MBREDC plans.
Whatever the difference, there is no justification for it. Two agencies, both almost totally dependent on public funds for their continued existence, should be treated absolutely the same by our elected officials.
Currently they are not!
Let’s put MBREDC to the test and ask the voters, in a stand-alone referendum, if they support a 1.75 mills tax increase to provide dedicated funding to economic development.