Bill aimed to fix beaches would raise taxes

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) A bill that could affect Horry County residents is making its way through the House of Representatives. The bill called the "Beach Preservation Act" would allow municipalities to add a one percent tax to the already imposed accommodations tax. Meaning, any city that already collects an accommodations tax would be qualified to collect the added tax.

The bill was introduced January 23rd in the House of Representatives. It since has been referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means, where it currently resides. If it passes, each municipality would individually be able to decide whether or not it would want to collect the special tax.

The funds from the tax would go towards nourishment, renourishment, maintenance, erosion mitigation and monitoring of the beaches within the corporate limits of the qualified municipality.

"With the Federal Government deep in debt, with the state not having any money- the beaches are what brings people, the tourists to the coast," House Representative Nelson Hardwick said. Hardwick is a co-sponsor of the bill.

"A penny here, a penny there. Sure- it adds up. And tourists are just like anybody else that shops for value. When they come down here they look and see how much tax they pay on their bills. That's why towns and municipalities need to take a real close look at this and see if it's worthwhile," Hardwick said.

Myrtle Beach is one South Carolina municipality that does currently collect an accommodation tax. Right now anyone who stays at a Myrtle Beach hotel pays a 5% state sales tax, a 1% road tax, a 2.5% hospitality fee, a 2% tax on state accommodations, a 1.5% tax on local accommodations and a 1% tax on tourism development. These numbers are before the possible 1% could be added for the beach renourishment.

"They just have to study it, the various municipalities. I don't think it applies to everybody on the coast, but those that see a need for it. It is a vehicle they could use to be prepared to protect the asset that brings people to the coast, the beach," Representative Hardwick said.

Representative Hardwick said depending on time, the Beach Preservation Act could get a hearing within a few weeks.

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