Horry County Council votes to end contract for I-73 if cities don’t continue funding support

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HORRY CO, SC (WBTW) – Horry County Council has voted to have the I-73 funding agreement with SCDOT postponed from October until December 31.

If the cities don’t join the county to fund the project in 90 days, the agreement will be canceled, council decided at a special meeting on Wednesday.

County leaders have not approved the agreement for work involving I-73 due to the ongoing court battle over local hospitality tax fees The fees are needed to help fund I-73 project work.

Horry County asked SCDOT for an extension to allow it time to work on the pending hospitality tax lawsuit and find a resolution with local municipalities over the issue. SCDOT is only allowing the county to postpone approving the agreement until October 1.

A 30-day cancellation clause is in the contract, and if the county wants to cancel the agreement, it must notify the agency by September 1.

Councilman Johnny Vaught had said ideally, the county wanted to try and postpone the approval until January to give as much time as possible to resolve the hospitality tax fight.

“We have no choice but to cancel the contract.” Vaught said.

The City of Myrtle Beach has said it would devote resources to the I-73 project and as far as the city is concerned, nothing has changed in that regard.  

“Horry County is able to continue collecting some $22 million in hospitality fees annually in the unincorporated areas, even after the circuit court’s injunction in June prohibiting it from imposing its hospitality fee in the incorporated areas,” City of Myrtle Beach officials wrote in a statement. “That amount of money, $22 million, plus contributions by the City of Myrtle Beach and other municipalities, would be more than enough to fund the contract with the SC Department of Transportation. 

 “Any decision by County Council to cancel the I-73 contract is solely a result of its unilateral decision to do so and is not attributable to actions taken by the City of Myrtle Beach or other municipalities to protect their residents, businesses and visitors,” the City added.

Congressman Tom Rice said he hopes city and county officials quickly resolve the issues so they can get I-73 off the ground. “We’ve got to stop fighting each other and start fighting for this road,” said Rice.

“How can we expect to succeed if our competition for tourists and our competition for other industries all have access to modern interstate freeways, and we are driving on roads that were designed 75 years ago?” Rice said.   

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