Tag: Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation

Coast RTA Funding Agreement Far Exceeds Special Committee Recommendations

Horry County has apparently found a way to exert the influence it desires over Coast RTA decisions with a proposed funding agreement between the county and the bus agency.

After failing for the last two years to have its membership on the Coast RTA board increased, the county will now have the ability to virtually dictate decisions to the Coast RTA board if the new funding agreement is approved by both sides.

The funding agreement goes far beyond recommendations made by a Special Committee on Coast RTA appointed by Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus. The committee deliberated through four sessions before approving a report to Horry County Council that recommended continuing funding for the agency.

Horry County Council and Fiduciary Responsibility

I have heard much recently about how Horry County Council was exercising its fiduciary responsibility, overseeing the use of public money, by appointing an ad hoc committee to report on Coast RTA.

I always get a funny feeling when I hear ‘fiduciary responsibility’ from public officials because it’s usually a dodge for some other agenda.

The recent cancelling of a contract for signs and bus shelters by SCDOT and the possibility that Coast RTA may be required to pay back money already spent on the project is the alleged reason the ad hoc committee will be looking into how effectively Coast RTA spends its public dollar grants.

Horry County Council and Coast RTA

Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus announced last week he would appoint an ad hoc committee to study the controversy that exists between Coast RTA and the S.C. Department of Transportation.

The ad hoc committee will study facts relevant to two stalled Coast RTA projects, a $1 million shelter and sign project for bus routes and a feasibility study for an intermodal transportation center for the agency.

SCDOT representative Doug Frate told council members in an executive session held after a council workshop last week that Coast RTA may have to pay back approximately $500,000 to SCDOT for the stalled projects.

Delaying RIDE III Vote

With the RIDE II capital project sales tax set to expire in May 2014, there does not appear to be enough support among Horry County Council members to immediately push for a RIDE III program.

This is a good idea.

For those of you who may not remember, or not have lived in Horry County in 2006, the process of establishing projects to be funded by a one cent local option sales tax (that’s what a capital project sales tax is) is not one that should be rushed.

Budgets - Cuts, Spending and You

Horry County Council Requests More Agencies Data

After last week’s contretemps with Coast RTA board members, Horry County Council has decided to request salary, benefit and other information from additional agencies funded with county tax dollars.

The Horry County Solid Waste Authority and Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation were asked to provide salary and benefit compensation for the CEO and senior staff as well as expense account information.

Even though the action was ‘a day late and a dollar short’ for combating the impression that Coast RTA was singled out by county council last week, it is the proper action to take.

Horry County Council Scrutiny and Racism Charges

When Horry County Council convened its fall budget retreat last week, charges of racism were the last thing I expected to hear emerge from the deliberations.

But emerge they did, exposing what appear to be systemic problems in Horry County government that go well beyond the simple balancing of revenues and expenditures.

The controversy started with a 6 a.m. Thursday morning (the day of the budget retreat) email requesting further information about the annual compensation package of Coast RTA CEO Myers Rollins. This started a two day email exchange viewed by Coast RTA board members, Horry County Council members and Horry County government staff as well as a phone call to Columbia attorney Jay Bender, an expert on the S.C. Freedom of Information law.

Horry County Council Oversight Inconsistent

The specter of further contretemps between Horry County Council and the Coast RTA board over appointment power to that board appears to be looming in the not too distant future.

Horry County provides approximately 50% of the total amount of state and local grants to the transit authority ($1.06 million of an approximate $2 million total). Those grants are matched 50-50 by the federal government to provide most of the Coast RTA operating budget.

Fourth quarter FY 2014 funds were only recently released to Coast RTA by county council. But, if information sources are providing to us proves accurate, the real showdown will come when next year’s budget is discussed.

More Transparency with Government Tax Dollars

The Horry County Council Infrastructure and Regulation Committee will consider a resolution tomorrow that could lead to greater public access and transparency to spending government tax dollars.

The resolution calls for the Horry County Solid Waste Authority, Coast RTA and the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation to conduct board meetings at the county’s Government and Justice Complex on 3rd Avenue in Conway.

Specifically the meetings would be held in council chambers or the council conference room, both of which are wired for internet live streaming of meetings as well as recording equipment that will allow recorded meetings to be available for viewing on the county website.

Coast RTA vs. MBREDC Funding

While attending a meeting with several Coast RTA officials nearly a month ago, I was asked several times if I had an explanation for why funding from Horry County for Coast RTA is treated differently than funding for the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation.

I had no other answer than the potential political clout of MBREDC board members compared to that of Coast RTA board members.

In the current fiscal year budget, Coast RTA is budgeted to receive $1.055 million from Horry County with some questions remaining about the upcoming May 1, 2014 fourth quarter payment of approximately $263,000.

Election Filing Mess Leads 2012 Stories

As we look back on the news of 2012, the top story in South Carolina this year was the election filing mess that kept nearly 300 candidates off the ballot.

Most candidates affected were challengers to incumbent Republicans, although many Democrats got left off too, in the June primary. They were ineligible to be certified as candidates because the state and local Republican and Democratic parties did not understand, and did not make allowance for, a minor change in state law that required electronic filing of the candidates’ Statement of Economic Interests.

The party leaders never saw it coming and they blew it. I don’t believe it was a big conspiracy to keep new candidates off the ballot. Some newcomers did file properly and did get certified, too few for a real democratic process, however.