ATLANTIC BEACH, SC (WMBF) Big questions are being raised in Atlantic Beach over the town's finances Monday night, after a financial audit revealed a major drop in the amount of money generated by Memorial Day Bike Fest.
According to an accountant working with the town, Atlantic Beach spent approximately $38,000 to host the 2011 event, and only generated $4,600 from the weekend festival.
In 2010, documents presented to town leaders Monday night revealed the rally generated more than $80,000 and approximately $72,000 in 2009. Several town council members were missing for the presentation.
"We're hearing numbers where people brought in this amount of money, and your bank records don't show that," Councilwoman Carolyn Cole said. "We're not saying you didn't take it in. We're saying where is it?
Cole says she now wants to know what has caused the major flop in revenue and is questioning if Atlantic Beach can financially support the event that draws thousands of sport bikers to the North Strand each year.
She claims Atlantic Beach needs more than the Memorial Day Bike Fest to survive as municipality. She reported that the town hasn't brought in more than $900,000 in revenue since 2008.
"It's the 21st Century," she added. "If it's not working and it's not generating the money for you that you say it is, it's time to step back and put all your options on the table."
Cole says she thinks it's time to start exploring other options for revenue in Atlantic Beach, and has reached out to outside sources to see how Atlantic Beach can clean up its image. Right now, town officials say Atlantic Beach is planning for its long term inclusion in Horry County's vision as a family-friendly beach.
But what if the Town of Atlantic Beach eliminated its Memorial Day Bike Fest all together? Some business owners close to the center of those rallies say it wouldn't make much of a dent in their bottom line.
The major problem: traffic.
"Our other two stores still do fairly well [during Memorial Day Weekend] because there's no traffic issue," Nick Goebel of Nick's Cigar World said. "But here - being one block away from Atlantic Beach - the traffic issue is overwhelming. For [customers] to get to this parking lot is so difficult, that very few actually do come here."
A memo obtained by WMBF News from the Town of Atlantic Beach reveals the town has not finalized any plans for its 2012 rally.