Roads, Radios, Taxes and Horry County Council

By Paul Gable

The next time we hear Horry County Council members talk about raising taxes, let’s move immediately for recall elections.

There is no provision for recall of elected officials in the state constitution. But, this is the Independent Republic the law doesn’t really apply here anyway.

Certainly very little fiscal responsibility does.

Last spring six members of Horry County Council were determined to raise property taxes by 7.2 mils, the largest increase allowed by law.

Why? Because the county was running out of money and all the county employees, especially public safety, needed pay raises. Or so county council told us at the time.

We were told the road maintenance tax had to be raised by 67% or roads in the county system couldn’t be maintained.

Remember all the talk about the county looking at removing roads from the county road system?

Five months down the road, all that is forgotten. Horry County Council got the tax increases it wanted and business as usual reigns again in Conway.

Tomorrow, the county Infrastructure and Regulation Committee will consider recommending seven resolutions to accept new roads and drainage into the County Maintenance System.

An early prediction is they will all pass.

Horry County Council is two-thirds of the way, with third reading passage of the ordinance guaranteed, to use approximately $16 million in excess revenue from Ride II tax collections for a new 900 MHz radio system for countywide communications.

The Ride II (Riding on a Penny) referendum was passed by the voters of the county to build roads. However, now that there is excess revenue from it Horry County Council quickly found a way to spend that excess in another area.

In 1993, when the current 800 MHZ system was first put in place, county and city officials were told it would have a lifespan of approximately 25 years. Motorola, the system provider, told county officials it would stop servicing the 800 MHz system at the end of next year.

Did Horry County Council establish some type of escrow fund so the money for a new system would be there when it was needed?

Of course not!

I would submit just saving the money Horry County Council wasted on one failed economic development entity after another through those years would have gone a long way to funding the new system.

But, if that was done, the so-called movers and shakers in the county, who so love to talk about economic development, wouldn’t have had public dollars to use on convention travel, Dunes Club memberships and fancy dinners at New York Prime and Ruth’s Chris.

It’s all a matter of priorities with your tax dollars.

Horry County Council doesn’t really look after them. It just raises them when it feels necessary.

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