Coast RTA Budget, Horry County and Communication

The controversy generated by a county budget amendment regarding a Coast RTA revenue grant, added during third reading of the Fiscal Year 2014 county budget, appears to be the result of lack of communication between county and Coast RTA officials.

A two hour meeting with Coast RTA officials last week revealed how the potential loss of a county payment to Coast RTA of $263,758, for the fourth quarter of Fiscal Year 2014, would result in a total loss to Coast RTA of $599,733.

The potential loss of the county grant payment costs Coast RTA an additional $236,523 in matching federal funds, $50,000 in ad revenue and $49,460 in lost passenger fares from two routes that will be cut, Entertainment Express and Airport to Ocean Boulevard. The Coast RTA budget, submitted to the Federal Transportation Authority must reflect these potential cuts.

Coast RTA Funding – Tempest in a Teapot?

It seems that the controversy over funding that erupted last week between Coast RTA and Horry County may be on its way to resolution.

The Coast RTA board passed a resolution at its regular board meeting Wednesday to work with Horry County and the Horry County legislative delegation to reconstitute who appoints board members to more closely reflect local agency funding of the authority.

Why couldn’t this resolution have been passed in the six months since January 2014? If it had, there is a very good chance uncertainty about a $268,000 payment from Horry County to Coast RTA in May 2014 would never have arisen.

Coast RTA vs. Horry County Budget Fight

It never takes much to stir up a political controversy in Horry County, but the one that has erupted in the last couple of days between Coast RTA and Horry County Council, over budgets, is ridiculous beyond belief.

Like any good political battle, egos are up and there are charges and counter-charges and more misinformation than real information in the air. But, the victor in these types of controversies is usually the one who controls the purse strings and that’s not good news for Coast RTA.

The genesis of this foolishness rests with the Horry County advisory referendum of 2010 in which 62.5 percent of voters said they would support giving tax dollars from the county’s general fund to Coast RTA to help fund its operations.

Mark Lazarus Hits a Grand Slam

With just a few appearances as Horry County Council chairman under his belt, Mark Lazarus hit a grand slam home run at Tuesday night’s regular meeting of council.

After many years of despairing over poor to non-existent leadership on Horry County Council, Lazarus has quickly stepped into the void, in my opinion.

He runs a good meeting and the other 11 council members seem comfortable with him at the helm. That’s certainly not a statement that could have been made very often, if at all, over the last several decades.

COAST Board Member Blasts Council

Mickey James, President of the Myrtle Beach Chapter of the NAACP and member of the COAST RTA board of directors, blasted Horry County Council Tuesday night for its stinginess toward the transit authority’s funding needs.

“No other agency receives the type of challenge and scrutiny (for funding) from this council,” during a presentation to council Tuesday night. “The bar for COAST is always higher.”

The question of funding from Horry County was supposedly decided in November 2010 when Horry County voters passed an advisory referendum, by an over 60 percent margin, to provide approximately $1 million in county funds to COAST on an annual basis. The referendum question was non-binding, but it was decisive.