MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — Myrtle Beach City Council introduced an ordinance Tuesday that would allow up to $20 million in bonds to be issued to finance downtown redevelopment.
The city would issue limited obligation bonds in the Oceanfront Redevelopment District, which covers properties between the Atlantic Ocean and King’s Highway from 21st Avenue North to 14th Avenue South. The city said the bonds are used to promote growth and investment in targeted areas to increase property values and, in turn, increase tax revenue.
The city’s goal is to reinvest the tax revenue back into the development, funding future projects such as a performing arts theatre, a new library, a children’s museum and renovations to Chapin Memorial Library among other projects.
Councilmember Gregg Smith said the bonds pay for themselves.
“It’s going to be a real place for the residents,” Smith said of the downtown. “Myrtle Beach has spent 80 years making a city tailored to tourists, and we’re making a city tailored to the residents.”
The city said the ordinance would strengthen the public-private partnership in the downtown development area. Smith added that a development like the Market Common would not have been possible to the same degree without tax increment financing.
For the fourth meeting in a row, one of the city’s pre-65 retirees at risk of losing health coverage provided via the city’s health plan at the end of this year spoke to council members.
The group of nearly 100 retirees has said Myrtle Beach city officials told them they could find better, cheaper private coverage. While some have found that to be true, the group said most will end up paying hundreds more each month on top of losing access to other benefits.
City Manager Fox Simons said at Tuesday’s meeting that the city is getting together with retirees to come up with a solution and hopes to finalize a plan within the next two weeks that would allow the retirees to keep going to their existing clinics.
Martin Ells, a retired Myrtle Beach firefighter, said the city shouldn’t piecemeal the solution.
“We’re pressing them before the elections to go ahead and make the right decision, and it’s a simple decision to turn things around,” Ells said. “It’s not a bargaining situation. It’s not a compromise situation. We need our healthcare benefits in their entirety.”
On another issues, after Horry County Council rejected a resolution to fund Interstate 73 last week, Myrtle Beach City Council member and Mayor Pro Tem Jackie Hatley responded at the end of Tuesday’s meeting.
“I was very disappointed in last week’s county council meeting where they voted down I-73, or support for I-73,” Hatley said. “I think it’s very important that I-73 does not die.”
Hatley said the city council has been steadfast in its support for the interstate project and brought up the possibility of council issuing another resolution supporting I-73 to get the message across to Horry County Council that the city backs the project.
In other action, city council also passed first readings of ordinances regarding floodplain management regulations to adopt new FEMA maps by Dec. 16 and the redevelopment and financing plan of the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base Redevelopment Authority after settling a lawsuit back in July launched by Horry County and Horry County Schools in 2018.