By Paul Gable
Horry County Council will consider two resolutions at its meeting tonight to complete this fiscal year’s budget process.
The resolutions will be to approve funding agreements with the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation for two years and with Coast RTA for one year.
These votes will be the final acts of contempt toward county taxpayers in a budget year that brings the largest property tax increase in a generation.
Led by the Republican ‘Gang of Five’ (Mark Lazarus, Al Allen, Johnny Vaught, Gary Loftus and Bill Howard), Horry County Council chose to raise property taxes by 7.2 mils ($13.5 million) without even considering during budget considerations whether funding should be cut for the MBREDC and Coast RTA.
Of course, MBREDC and Coast RTA funding weren’t the only possible savings in a $130 million general fund budget that could have been looked at.
It was just easier for the Republican ‘Gang of Five’ to raise taxes than to go through the details of the budget.
Consider the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation, which the county budget provides with $1.3 million in annual funding, plus possible approval of other economic development incentives if the agency ever finds a business to court.
Tonight’s resolution, if approved, will guarantee two more years funding to MBREDC, an agency whose performance over the last five years is extremely poor to non-existent. Over that same five year period, MBREDC has received at least $7.5 million from taxpayers.
But, rather than consider cutting off the funding to such a non-performing agency, funding whose annual amount is 10% of the tax increase, the ‘Gang of Five’ decided to continue funding while raising county taxes the maximum amount allowed by law.
In like manner, the ‘Gang of Five’ never considered the $1.05 million funding that goes to Coast RTA each year.
Horry County is second only to the federal government in the amount of funding provided to the bus agency – more than the state, Georgetown County and the municipalities combined.
To say that Coast RTA has had problems over the past decade is an understatement. But, despite various threats by county council to cut Coast RTA funding over the past several budget years, it remains solidly in place while property taxes are raised throughout the county.
The Republican ‘Gang of Five’ treated the taxpayers with contempt this budget year.
Tonight’s two resolutions, if approved, will be just another slap in the face of taxpayers.