Myrtle Beach’s Problem with the Truth about I-73 Funding

By Paul Gable

Myrtle Beach city government just can’t keep itself from spinning stories in an attempt to make itself look good while hiding the truth from the public.

The following post, which appeared on the city government Facebook page yesterday, is a perfect example of the city’s spin:

“The City of Myrtle Beach supports I-73…

“The Myrtle Beach City Council is on the record as supporting I-73. Twice in the past year, City Council has approved resolutions expressing its support for I-73. In April 2019, Council publicly stated that it would devote financial resources to I-73 once the Hospitality Fee issue was resolved. Myrtle Beach has demonstrated its commitment to I-73. Question: Has the Horry County Council voted publicly to support I-73?”

The day Myrtle Beach filed suit against Horry County to stop countywide collection of the 1.5% Hospitality Fee, the local revenue stream for funding I-73 dried up.

The above post says in April 2019 Myrtle Beach city council approved a resolution expressing support for I-73. The resolution was passed after city council refused a settlement offer for the Hospitality Fee lawsuit from county council that provided funding for I-73.

The county’s settlement offer would have designated one-third of the revenue from countywide collection of the 1.5% Hospitality Fee to fund I-73 with the remaining two-thirds of the revenue collected within the city limits being transferred back to the city for use as city council determined.

The following is an extract from a letter Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune wrote to county Chairman Johnny Gardner rejecting the settlement offer:

“Thank you for your letter of April 3. As you are aware, the Myrtle Beach City Council has expressed its willingness to commit support for the I-73 project. However, since the proposed funding source is the subject of litigation, we are unable to engage in negotiations under the terms described in your letter and related attachments.

“As you are aware from the lawsuit the City of Myrtle Beach has instituted against the County, it is our position that the continued collection of the Hospitality Fee inside the City’s corporate boundary is not lawful. Given that position, we do not see how that fee can be considered as the basis for a compromise or agreement among the parties in dispute.

“The Myrtle Beach City Council is required to manage the City’s business affairs for the benefit of its constituents. Accordingly, we cannot delegate to the County the authority to control the disposition of revenues which are properly within the City’s authority to receive and the City Council’s authority to manage. Our belief is that each jurisdiction is best suited to determine the use of its own revenues.”

The truth is Myrtle Beach city council has expressed verbal support only for I-73. To date, it has not voted to provide financial support for the interstate project. The road can’t be built with words.

The City of Myrtle Beach is not alone with providing only verbal support. Despite many statements in support of the I-73 project by state Reps. Alan Clemmons, Heather Ammons Crawford, Russell Fry and Tim McGinnis, no state funds have been appropriated for construction of I-73 in Horry County. The same is true from the federal level even though Congressman Tom Rice continues to voice the need for the road.

The county has already built SC 22 with Hospitality Fee money. SC 22, with some minor upgrading of its shoulders to meet interstate standards, will be the easternmost portion of I-73. What little money has been appropriated from the state and federal governments for the I-73 project has been spent in other counties through which the road will pass.

The plan has always been for I-73 construction within Horry County to be paid for with locally collected tax and/or fee revenue.

The question Myrtle Beach City Council should be asking is when the state and federal governments are going to step up and do their part in funding the remainder of the road in Horry County.


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