By Paul Gable
North Myrtle Beach voters will go to the polls today to decide whether a Tourism Development Fee will be instituted in the city.
I support the decision of the North Myrtle Beach City Council to allow this decision to be left up to the voters. Additionally, I support statements from council that, if passed, only the minimum TDF revenue required by law would be used for owner-occupied property tax relief with the majority of that revenue used to benefit all the citizens of the city with improved infrastructure.
The TDF was introduced to the state and this area in 2009. Since that time, it has been my opinion the TDF is used in Myrtle Beach to benefit the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, certain large business owners in that city and residents who live in high end homes.
The North Myrtle Beach approach is significantly different. The city is demonstrating it is not Myrtle Beach in the way TDF funds will be used if the referendum passes.
Since the recent North Myrtle Beach city council budget retreat, it appears city residents are in for some type of tax increase. A property tax increase of 2-3 mills was discussed by council at the retreat.
During presentations about the TDF, City Manager Mike Mahaney discussed the need to find a funding source to address parking problems around the city because public safety people are being tied up dealing with parking problems when they could be better utilized performing other duties.
If the TDF passes, city revenue from the fee could be the funding source for addressing parking problems, which would also benefit public safety by freeing personnel for other needs. Revenue for marketing North Myrtle Beach would be used to promote the North Myrtle Beach brand in order to maintain a strong economy in the city.
Mahaney said one mill of property tax brings in revenue of $375,000 to the city. Three mills, therefore, would bring the city an additional $1,125,000 in revenue for parking and other infrastructure.
According to Mahaney’s presentation, the TDF would provide the city with $1,360,000 for parking improvements from the second year of the tax onward. A special budget proviso now working its way through the General Assembly will provide the city with approximately $1,340,000 additional revenue from the current accommodations tax collected in the city if the TDF is approved before July 1, 2018.
The real question for North Myrtle Beach voters today is how they want to fund the city’s needs for increased revenue.
Do they want to pay for it all by themselves through a property tax increase or do they want to share the cost with the visitors who actually cause many of the parking problems experienced in the city?
Whatever your personal views on the TDF and taxes, get out and vote today in order to participate in this important decision for the city.
TDF explanation: copy and paste this link: https://youtu.be/KPko9sNHlfw