The possibility of a Tourism Development Fee in North Myrtle Beach suffered a crushing defeat Tuesday at the polls.
The unofficial tally was 188 Yes votes for the TDF against 3,050 No votes. The results will be certified by the North Myrtle Beach Election Commission Thursday.
Defeat of the TDF is not surprising. What is surprising is the turnout. In the days before the election, I spoke with several seasoned political professionals from Horry County to get their predictions for turnout. They all agreed the number of voters that would go to the polls would range from 750-1,000.
Those predictions were based on past turnout for special elections in Horry County and tempered by the fact that candidates were not on the ballot, just a single referendum question.
To put the numbers more in perspective, a special election in March on a referendum question only drew a total of 3,238 votes. The vote for mayor in the November 2017 city general election saw 3,670 total votes with Mayor Marilyn Hatley winning with 2,765 votes out of 3,670 votes cast. In that same election, councilman Terry White ran unopposed and only gained 2,894 votes.
To call the number of votes cast on this referendum question astounding is to understate it. But, it may also prove to be the high-water mark of politics for the current city council.
The result is exactly what, I believe, North Myrtle Beach city council members wanted from the beginning, a resounding repudiation of the TDF in a referendum vote to take that issue out of the political discussion once and for all. Several council members were quite outspoken with op-eds and social media during the campaign about their opposition to the TDF.
In my opinion, a presentation about the TDF by Mike Mahaney at the Tidewater Homeowners Association on February 19, 2018, one that I personally attended, hinted at other, one could say even better, options for the city than the TDF. The entire North Myrtle Beach city council attended the meeting after the city issued a notice three days before that there was no city council meeting February 19th.