Hospitality tax a tool for flood aid, unincorporated Horry Co. still needs support

Grand Strand

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WBTW) – This week Governor McMaster signed a bill allowing Hospitality Tax dollars to be used for flood relief.

Local governments can now provide flood funding to areas impacted by stormwater, but only if tourism is impacted.

Coastal cities like Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach, and Surfside Beach would be able to access funds easier than unincorporated parts of Horry County.

Horry County Council Member Cam Crawford says this includes inland communities such as Forestbrook, Socastee, and Rosewood.

“There aren’t hotels. Tourists aren’t actually coming here and staying. It’s a little more difficult to make that argument,” said Crawford.

Difficult, but not impossible.

Crawford says county council will approved relief where they can.

“In Carolina Forest maybe you can make an argument that tourists go to the Tanger Outlets and maybe that’s a way to secure some money there,” said Crawford.

He says a buyout program for flood prone areas is coming soon.

Horry County Rising is a local group that combats flooding issues.

President April O’Leary says many homeowners don’t want a buyout, but instead a more permanent solution.

“What has been a lack of focus for a long time and where we have a significant amount of unmet needs are these inland communities that support these tourism economies,” said O’Leary.

She says all county flooding impacts tourism.

“A watershed approach is the best way to look at it. Not look at it by jurisdictions and whether or not there’s tourism businesses in that region,” said O’Leary.

Crawford says the county collects more than 12 million dollars in Hospitality Tax and some funding can be used for stormwater repairs.

O’Leary says repairs need to be extended into inland communities.

“To alleviate the significant, catastrophic damage that we’re seeing to families homes and families businesses,” said O’Leary.

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