Horry County responds to Myrtle Beach lawsuit over hospitality fee

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HORRY COUNTY, SC (WBTW)- Horry County responds to a lawsuit filed against them by the City of Myrtle Beach. The city claims the county has been illegally collecting “tens of millions of dollars per year” through a hospitality fee. The money was to go towards the I-73 project.

The city said the county has unlawfully collected a 1.5% hospitality fee without their consent since January 1, 2017, and filed a lawsuit against the county last month. Horry County’s response denies allegations that they’re actions were illegal.

The city claims the county extended the hospitality tax without city approval for the I-73 project. 
The county’s response said the city gave full and unanimous support to enact and implement a hospitality fee.

The response said the county fostered a program benefitting the entire county for 22 years. 
The county response also made claims towards the city, saying the city’s budget has increased significantly over the past few years, and, “The city has apparently mismanaged its own budget, and now the city seeks to circumvent state law to shore up its own finances.”

The county claims the city’s primary goal is to raise its state-mandated cap on fees it may charge its citizens and guests and use the remaining funds for its own use.

Mayor Brenda Bethune recently sent a letter to County Chairman Johnny Gardner which said in part that the Myrtle Beach City Council is required to manage the city’s business affairs for the benefit of its constituents, and said the county’s proposal is unfair and legally questionable.

The letter does say the city has expressed interest in supporting funding for I-73.

Representatives for the city and county said they cannot discuss pending litigation.

The county’s attorney, Henrietta Golding gave a statement, saying “it’s unfortunate that city council would bring this type of lawsuit based on weak legal grounds. Lawsuits are not governance, and they should be involved in governing and good faith and not suing.”

News 13 reached out to the City of Myrtle Beach attorney’s and have yet to hear back.

To read the letter sent to Horry County Chairman from North Myrtle Beach, mayor click here.

To read the letter sent to Horry County Chairman from Surfside mayor, click here.

To read the letter sent to Horry County Chairman from Myrtle Beach mayor, click here.

To read Horry County’s full response, click here

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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