Horry County councilman suggests attorney fees caused by hospitality tax battle could be $7M if dispute escalates

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HORRY CO, SC (WBTW) – An Horry County councilman railed against attorney fees caused by the hospitality tax battle, which he suggested could be around $7 million for municipalities if the legal dispute escalated.

“I will not be a party to paying attorney fees to the tune of $7 million, plus or minus,” Councilman Harold Worley said at Tuesday night’s meeting. “I am not voting for it. And I’ll tell you this, if anybody on this council votes for it you will be thrown out of office.”

Worley said the attorney fees are being included as part of the hospitality tax mediation. The mediation began after the City of Myrtle Beach filed a lawsuit against Horry County, claiming the county had been illegally collecting “tens of millions of dollars per year” through the hospitality fee for building the proposed I-73. Governor Henry McMaster put pressure on both sides to solve the issue. 

“The only argument all along has been what? Attorney fees!” Worley said. Worley walked out of the meeting and was not a part of the executive session where members discussed the mediation.

Worley was not in the previous mediation sessions and has not been briefed on the contents of the deal, said Chairman Johnny Gardner after the meeting. Gardner said officials were in mediation for three days working things out. He thinks what they have is good enough for both parties.

“I can’t speculate what other people have heard and who they have heard it from,” Gardner said. “I can only tell you that under the rules I was in mediation all three days, all day each day, but I cannot tell you what was said or done in those mediation sessions.”

Gardner talked about the timeline for the deal. He believes officials will present the written documents to the council in an executive session at their next meeting on Nov. 19. Then, they will vote on the deal.

Details will not be available to the public until the deal goes before a judge, Gardner said, which could be in December.

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