By Paul Gable
Horry County and the City of Myrtle Beach are investigating a joint purchase of the former Hard Rock Theme Park.
According to sources familiar with the talks, the reason for the purchase is to build additional sports fields for the sports tourism industry.
This is not a good idea on several levels.
Horry County and Myrtle Beach should not use public tax dollars for the purchase of land and construction of sports facilities for the tourism industry.
Horry County just raised property taxes by 7.2 mils (the maximum increase allowed by state law) for this current fiscal year ostensibly for pay increases and public safety improvements.
Now it not only proposes to use tax dollars to purchase land and build sports fields, but the purchase of the former theme park property by local governments would remove that land from the tax rolls, a double whammy for local taxpayers.
Horry County already wastes over $1 million per year funding the operations budget of the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation. If this is such a good idea, shouldn’t MBREDC be able to recruit private business to purchase the land and build the facilities?
Myrtle Beach raises tens of millions of tax dollars, with its one cent tourism sales tax, that it turns over to the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce to use for tourism advertising. This is something that should be funded by marketing budgets of the private businesses in the tourism industry.
Additional millions are raised in the city and the county through accommodations and hospitality taxes that support the tourism industry.
When is enough actually enough?
I would say we have passed that threshold long ago.
Myrtle Beach and Horry County to a lesser extent have used public tax dollars for years to help support the tourism industry to the benefit of several large, local corporations who have basically controlled the Chamber board.
It’s been a neat little cabal that has taxed local citizens tp pay for for what should properly be private business expenditures.
It’s time for this to stop!
One more reason for local voters to support new candidates in the upcoming city elections.