Horry County Council voted to legally enter an agreement with the South Carolina Department of Transportation where the county will give SCDOT between $23 and 25 million a year for I-73.
That money comes from the 1.5% hospitality fee, which is about $40 to 41 million a year.
Originally that money was mostly used to pay off the Ride I project debt, but that debt has been repaid.
Council approved Wednesday entering a formal agreement with SCDOT in which Horry County will start sending upwards of $25 million of that hospitality fee per year to a trust account at the state treasurer’s office.
That decision didn’t go without a lot of back and forth between council. Councilman Harold Worley worried SCDOT might see that money as a blank check to spend freely.
Chairman Mark Lazarus said SCDOT can’t move forward on any projects without council’s approval.
“We’re not saying in the contract we’re obligated to sending you this money every year,” Lazarus said. “They have to send a work plan, and that work plan has to be approved by county council before any dollars are expended.”
SCDOT will use those funds for right-of-way acquisition, design and engineering, permitting, improvements to Highway 22, and construction.
Annually, SCDOT will submit a work plan to the county by March 31 on their proposed activities for the coming year. Council will have to approve it by June 30.
If approved, SCDOT would develop the first annual work plan for the county’s consideration and inclusion in the fiscal year 2019-20 budget. SCDOT would begin work in fiscal year 2019-20 upon the first deposit into the trust account.