Surfside Beach looks to fix hospitality tax rules as legal battle winds down

Grand Strand

SURFSIDE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) – Surfside Beach is closer to resolving its portion of the Horry County hospitality tax legal battle.

Town leaders are looking to fix the confusion over where hospitality tax revenue generated in Surfside’s limits will go.

“This is the settlement agreement that came out of all of this,” said finance director Diane King. “What we end up doing to make it all easy is everything is going back the way it was before we changed it last March.”

Town council passed first reading of an ordinance Tuesday night that would essentially revert Surfside’s hospitality tax collection rules back to before they were changed in March 2019. Horry County reached a settlement last month with its cities and towns, who sued over control of those funds. The municipalities had kept money raised in their borders, but the settlement would split up that money.

After a judge accepted the deal, Mayor Bob Hellyer posted on Facebook that Surfside would get $997,200. On Tuesday, Mayor Hellyer says it’s now unclear just how much the town will get, as the City of Myrtle Beach is appealing over its share.

Still, Surfside is preparing for the new way of sharing hospitality tax money.

“We are getting ready to send out a letter to all of our businesses in town that do hospitality and local a-tax, explaining to them what’s happening,” King said. “Instead of them now paying all of the money to us, they will pay some to Horry County and some to us.”

This comes as Surfside prepares to rebuild its fishing pier, which is one of the town’s main attractions that was destroyed by Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Surfside is breaking ground on the $16 million project Monday.

There’s also a possibility that you can get a slice of the town’s history.

“I’ve seen some people’s suggestions that we make it so that any residents can come get a piece of the pier,” Mayor Hellyer said. “We talked about maybe giving it to a nonprofit.”

Council must pass the hospitality tax ordinance again next month and it would officially go into effect on Jan. 1.

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