Horry Co., Myrtle Beach agree on hospitality fee settlement, one step closer to ending dispute

Grand Strand

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WBTW) — The argument over hospitality fees between Horry County and its municipalities is one step closer to ending.

The South Carolina Supreme Court heard arguments from both sides Wednesday. The hearing wasn’t held to put an end to the lawsuit, but city and county leaders News13 spoke with said that reality is probably not far away.

Wednesday’s hearing was to decide if a 2019 injunction stopping the 1.5% hospitality fee would be upheld.

“All we’re asking the Court to do is reverse the injunction,” said Jim Gillian, the attorney representing Horry County.

“In order for there to be a service charge, there’s got to be a service,” said John Hoefer, the attorney representing the City of Myrtle Beach. “They’ve got to provide a service inside a municipality. They have to have the municipalities’ consent.”

The hospitality fee was part of a 20-year agreement that ended in 2017. The City of Myrtle Beach claims that between then and the injunction, the county continued to collect that fee, which prompted a class-action lawsuit.

Leaders from both sides said Wednesday a settlement agreement has been reached and now they’re just waiting on municipality approval.

“I believe Myrtle Beach and Horry County are really close,” Horry County Council Chair Johnny Gardner said. “It would just be a collection of whether or not the other municipalities would agree to it.”

“It shouldn’t take that long,” Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune said. “As soon as the administrators get with their council to review it, then all they have to do is something similar to what we did [Tuesday] night.”

In a special meeting Tuesday night, the City of Myrtle Beach approved litigation after a three-hour executive session.

Mayor Bethune told News13 she and others involved are looking forward to putting this behind them and are glad it seems they are a step in the right direction.

Count on News13 for the latest updates on this dispute.

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