Horry County to add stormwater upgrades to list of projects potentially funded by impact fees

Grand Strand

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – A plan to make new developments and businesses in Horry County pay for hundreds of millions of dollars in infrastructure projects is moving forward.

Impact fees were the biggest topic in this week’s Horry County Council planning retreat and it was a first look at what that roughly $20 million a year from new construction could fund, but the work is far from over.

“This is the fourth time the county has looked at doing this,” said county council chair Johnny Gardner. “They’ve been trying to do it for, I’ve heard, 10 or 15 years.”

After almost 75% of voters last year supported impact fees, county leaders are going through the details of how they would be implemented and what the estimated $197 million could fund. The first presentation to county council explained impact fee revenue would fund road, public safety and recreation projects.

After hurricanes Matthew and Florence destroyed homes with floods, council members say improving stormwater infrastructure should be the top priority.

“We need to stop the flooding first,” said Bill Howard, a council member representing parts of Myrtle Beach and Carolina Forest. “We need to get a handle on the flooding first and we’ve got some good maps now. We’ve got some good experience with it.”

Council decided Friday to have the county administrator and staff add drainage upgrades to the possible projects funded by impact fees in all unincorporated areas of Horry County.

“They’re going to prioritize what needs to be done, list it out and move forward with it,” Gardner said.

“Finding a balance is one of the most difficult things that council is faced with every year as we go through the budget,” said Barry Spivey, who’s the assistant county administrator of administration. “We want to do things, but how is the best way to fund it?”

The first analysis said a single-family home would pay $4,565 in one-time impact fees, but that may change, depending on the projects selected to receive impact fee money.

“Preliminary numbers should be taken off the table and allow staff an opportunity to work through this process with stormwater to try to figure out where we are,” said Harold Worley, a council member representing North Myrtle Beach.

Gardner says an ordinance could be voted on in the first half of next year and if it’s approved for next year’s budget, impact fees would begin on July 1.

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