By Paul Gable
Reading the Mark Lazarus campaign mailers immediately brought to my mind Ronald Reagan telling Jimmy Carter “There you go again” during the 1980 presidential campaign.
The phrase has become part of the political lexicon to mean a candidate has entered the realm of hyperbole in his or her campaign statements.
The Lazarus campaign claiming $1 billion in infrastructure improvements in the county is certainly hyperbole, at least.
Most of that money comes from Ride projects and the new airport terminal.
County council has very little say in Ride projects. The process begins with an advisory committee which establishes a list of needed projects. That list goes to a sales tax advisory commission who establishes a final list that goes to county council.
Council may vote the list up or down, but it can’t make any changes to what the commission proposed. If council approves the list, it then goes to the voters in a binding referendum question asking whether an additional one percent sales tax should be levied on purchases in the county to pay for Ride projects.
The citizens are asked to approve additional taxes on themselves because a succession of councils and our state legislative delegation have allowed development to far outpace infrastructure improvements in the county.
If I have this correct, the citizens vote to levy extra taxes on themselves so Lazarus can claim he is responsible for infrastructure improvements.
Eddie Dyer, who served as chairman of both the advisory committee and sales tax commission, made the following statement about road conditions in Horry County when presenting council with $592 million in projects for Ride III:
“We have $1.944 billion worth of needs that the 18-member advisory committee identified this year,” Dyer said. “To address the $1.944 billion in needs, the South Carolina general assembly gave us $10 million. There’s a big gap there. This $592 million will do a lot to improve the roads and infrastructure in Horry County.”
I have been told Heather Ammons Crawford and Russell Fry are helping with the Lazarus campaign. I would suggest they could help the county’s citizens a lot more if they did their job as state legislators and brought more of our tax dollars back to Horry County so we didn’t have to keep voting additional taxes on ourselves to fix our roads.
And that goes for the rest of our state legislators who have endorsed Lazarus. Do your job in Columbia. Stop Horry County from being the largest donor county in the state.
The airport terminal claim is laughable. Horry County Council approved construction of the new terminal at Myrtle Beach International Airport in 2009. Lazarus completed his first term as a council member at the end of 2006 and was not elected as chairman until 2013.
If any chairman deserves to have the airport terminal listed as a credit it is Liz Gilland who spent nearly her entire time as chairman attempting to get a new terminal project approved for the airport.
Finally, a word about the I-73 permit. If I-73 is built according to current plans, it will be a toll road and we, the citizens, will be paying a toll on what is now SC-22, a road that has had free access for nearly 20 years.
I don’t consider adding a toll to an existing road that we have already paid for with hospitality tax dollars to be an infrastructure benefit. How many times do we tax ourselves for a road for the chairman to claim it as an infrastructure improvement he is responsible for?
There you go again.