Horry County cities look to take back part of tourist tax from county

Grand Strand

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Myrtle Beach officials say an agreement that sends a portion of local taxes to the county expired two years ago, but Horry County still takes a cut of the funds.

If you visit Myrtle Beach, you’ll pay around a three percent tax on your hotel and at dinner, but more than half of that money goes to Horry County.

The city and county made the agreement to split the taxes to build roads through the Ride I project.

Even though that agreement was only supposed to last until 2017, Horry County still takes a portion of the money from Myrtle Beach.

“The agreement that was in place for 20 years has run its course, and at this point city council is saying the money is being generated inside the City of Myrtle Beach, the money needs to come to the City of Myrtle Beach to be spent on the city’s behalf,” Mark Kruea, a spokesperson for the City of Myrtle Beach said.

Last Tuesday Myrtle Beach city council passed first reading of an ordinance that would bring all accommodations and hospitality tax money back to the city.

“And the City of Myrtle Beach, not Horry County, will determine how that money will be spent,” Kruea said.

The City of North Myrtle Beach also recently passed first reading of an ordinance that would allow it to do the same.

“Our history has been that we’ve collected half of (the accommodations and hospitality tax) in the city, and the county has collected the other half in our city and used it for their own purposes with very little benefit to the City of North Myrtle Beach,” Pat Dowling, a spokesperson with North Myrtle Beach said.

North Myrtle Beach officials say accommodations and hospitality taxes are meant to relieve some of the pressures tourism and growth can put on city services and infrastructure.

Having access to the full amount would bring an extra $6 million a year to North Myrtle Beach.

“We go from a town of roughly 16,000 people year-round, to a town of 100,000 people a day in the summer months. It puts a lot of pressure on services, infrastructure, roads, and that’s what the money would be used for- projects and services oriented towards serving tourists,” Dowling said.

Surfside Beach town council is also voting on an ordinance about the topic Tuesday night.

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