Organizations vie for portions of Horry County accommodations tax funding

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Seventeen organizations in Horry County have formally applied for a portion of funding fueled by a state accommodations tax implemented in unincorporated parts of the county.

Mark Lazarus, who serves on the Horry County Accommodations Tax Committee, says $1.3 million is expected to make its way back to Horry County to be divided up among eligible organizations and causes applying for the funding.

A large portion of that money, according to Lazarus, will help pay for beach renourishment, clean-up and patrols.

A beach clean-up program in Horry County has asked for more than $500,000 in funding for 2012, an amount Horry County Public Safety Director Paul Whitten says is an increase from previous years. He says the program is weaning itself off of inmate labor, hiring temporary workers and increasing beach cleaning efforts.

Whitten says the program plans on grooming unincorporated beaches in Horry County five days a week, picking up beach trash seven days a week and cleaning up litter along US-17.

The Horry County Police Department has also submitted a funding request to better support beach patrol officers who keep an eye on tourists and residents while on the beach.

"If our guests didn't have the ability with [a situation] or have law enforcement readily available, it would have a serious impact on our level of service throughout the entire unincorporated part of the county," Whitten said.

County Engineer Steve Gosnell was also among the officials making their case on Monday at the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce as to why beach renourishment should receive partial A-Tax funding.

Gosnell, according to a verbal presentation, has requested approximately $501,000 to go towards the county's 8-year renourishment efforts. Lazarus added the money is needed in order to secure federal money to support the project.

"We have to have the matching funds in order to receive the federal dollars to do beach renourishment," Lazarus commented. "We're proactive on that and set that money aside every year so we don't have to try to find it when the time comes."

Other organizations looking to gain extra funding from the accommodations tax include Coastal Uncorked, the Little River Chamber of Commerce and Horry County Museum.

The Horry County Accommodations Tax Committee is expected to gather again in two weeks to further discuss any questions regarding the funding proposals. The proposals will then move through a second reading before being passed on to the Horry County Council for consideration and approval.

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