North Myrtle Beach proposes property tax increase

Grand Strand

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – City council wrapped up its budget retreat with a proposal to increase property taxes by almost 8 mils – or $79 more a year on a $250,000 home.

North Myrtle Beach council members discussed the proposed budget for the 2021 fiscal year on Tuesday.  The proposed budget is about $119 million, which is $27 million more than the 2020 budget.

That’s an increase of nearly 30 percent. Most of that money would go to an expansion of the North Myrtle Beach Parks and Sports Complex.

Here are some of the budget initiative for fiscal year 2021:

— The budget proposes a property tax increase of about 7.9 mils to fund expansion of the North Myrtle Beach Park & Sports Complex. Using a two-year short-term loan, the City paid $4.2 million for the 96 acres. Part of the revenue generated by the proposed millage increase would pay off the short-term loan. A multi-year bond issue would then fund construction of the new playing fields and other amenities. City Council has indicated that the proposed millage increase of 7.9 mils would decrease by the same amount after retiring the bond. Council took that approach with the millage increase that helped fund the original Park & Sports Complex.

— The City’s current property tax rate is 37.1 mils. The City reduced its millage rate by 6.1 mils for FY 2020 to reflect the end of the eight-year bond issue with which the City purchased 162 acres and constructed the original Park & Sports Complex. Since opening in March 2014, the facility has generated over $100 million in new, direct revenue for the North Myrtle Beach economy, primarily in the off-season. Since it opened, the facility has attracted over two million visitors. The expanded facility would enable the City to compete for and host larger sports tourism events, and host multiple events simultaneously. It would also position the City to provide continued opportunities for its growing youth and adult recreation leagues.)

The proposed budget includes construction of the 18th Avenue North Ocean Outfall beginning in fall 2020. By delaying outfall construction, the City is able to accomplish the estimated $14 million project ($12 million City and $2 million state) without borrowing funds. Smaller storm water drainage projects are also included in the proposed budget.

— The proposed budget provides initial funding for an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and a Data Management Center on the west side of the Intracoastal Waterway. These facilities would share the site of a new fire station, the latter coming on line several years from now. The EOC would provide the City with a facility from which to manage impacts from hurricanes Category 3 and stronger. It would also enable all staff to manage a storm from one location. The Data Center would provide the City with added redundancy and a secure location in the event a major hurricane compromises infrastructure located east of the Waterway.

— Financially speaking, Phase I of the Cherry Grove Canals Dredging Project ends in FY 2021. Phase II is being evaluated.

— Equipment replacement for departments continues on a pay-as-you go basis.

— Under the proposed budget, the year-end balance for the General Fund would be about $12.5 million, above the 35% fund balance policy.

— Funding for Beach Renourishment will come from state accommodations tax funds.

— The proposed budget projects Beach Services showing a profit and a net equity in excess of $1.2 million at the close of the FY 2021 budget cycle.

— The employee Pay-for-Performance matrix remains the same as for FY 2020.

— General Obligation debt remains at $0 until issuance of the proposed Park Improvement Bonds occurs.

— The City does not propose rate increases in its Water & Sewer Fund, except for any pass-through rate change from Grand Strand Water & Sewer Authority.

— Discussion of significant water, sewer and road projects will occur at the budget retreat.

— For FY 2021, the Accommodations Tax Committee (A-Tax Committee) received funding requests totaling $9.7 million. It is the A-Tax Committee’s job to review funding requests and recommend to City Council those to fund and at what level, using the actual $4.1 million in tax revenue projected for FY 2021. At the budget retreat, City Council will review the A-Tax Committee’s recommendations or redirect some funding.

The proposed budget involves 17 separate funds with significant interrelations and transfers between the various funds.

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