By Paul Gable
Horry County Council will consider a resolution at its regular meeting Tuesday night that provides an alternative strategy for hospitality fee collections and expenditures within the county.
This initiative is in response to the recent actions of Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach and Surfside Beach councils in passing ordinances to capture all hospitality fee revenue generated within their municipal borders in accordance with current state law.
The county’s proposal is to save the 1.5% countywide hospitality fee with $18 million of the proceeds dedicated to funding for I-73.
While the countywide proposal appears to raise in excess of $13 million more in revenue, the expenditure of $18 million toward I-73 would leave each city and the county with less actual revenue available to offset the ever increasing demands of offsetting costs of tourism to each entity.
By dedicating money specifically for I-73, the county’s proposal also falls short of addressing current needs for repair and improvements to U.S. 501, SC-22, SC-9, Hwy 90 and Hwy 905.
Both the county and the cities would see immediate benefits from addressing the needs of those five roadways as opposed to waiting years for completion of the portion of I-73 from I-95 at Dillon to Horry County.
Why should the citizens be told to ignore the needs of those roads before the next round of flooding hits the county, yet be excited about some future roadway that may or may not be built?
It is important to remember that neither the state government nor the federal government have appropriated any funds to construction of I-73.
There should be no rush by local governments to dedicate tax dollars to I-73 while the state and federal governments continue to provide none. The loudest proponents for I-73 funding are state Reps. Alan Clemmons, Russell Fry and Heather Ammons Crawford. At least they are the loudest in Horry County. It seems their voices become quite muted when they are in Columbia.
There are immediate needs in the areas of public safety, recreation, roads, parking and other infrastructure needs that each of the governments in Horry County must address. These needs are the result of the demands tourism makes on local government services and the continued growth in our permanent population that often results from people who first became acquainted with the area as tourists.
To say that a future interstate road is a more important funding priority than those needs is ludicrous and should result in the removal from office at the next election of any elected official who maintains that position.