Higher taxes if Myrtle Beach moves forward on new performing arts center

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – A majority of registered voters in the City of Myrtle Beach voted in favor of a referendum to increase property taxes in order to pay for construction of a performing arts center.

The referendum asked voters whether the city may issue up to $10,000,000 in general obligation bonds to build an Auditorium and Performing Arts Center at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.

"It essentially said can the city raise the debt ceiling to issue bonds," said city spokesperson Mark Kruea.  "It gives the city permission to do that but it does not require it to do that."

The city has 5 years to decide whether or not to move forward and spend the $10 million building the new complex.  But before construction may begin, the city must vote yes to raise property taxes that would pay for the project.

"Ultimately council has to vote to raise taxes as well which is essentially what the voters have given them permission to do," added Kruea.

If council votes yes, property taxes in Myrtle Beach on a $200,000 home would go up $20 per year.  Taxes would also jump $3 a year on a $20,000 car.

Rita Levine sits on the board of directors for the performing arts center and said the cost is worth it to support local artists.

"It's a state of the art theater," said Levine.  "It has an orchestra pit, it's in Myrtle Beach and we're not in competition with the Carolina Opera or Alabama Theater they have their own shows."

The city said the main theater of the new complex would hold 500-600 people.  That is essentially double the amount the house at The Theater of the Republic in Conway can hold.

Opponents of the project said the size of the theater is not worth the $10 million price tag.  Levine said the house would actually hold more.

"The plans actually have 843 seats but we won't know until the city approves everything," added Levine.

Kruea said the $10 million covers a lot more than just one theater.

"There's some public spaces involved," added Kruea.   "There's a black box theater, it is a performing arts theater so there is a lot of back of house operations that go into it so it's not a movie theater its much more complex than that."

Here is how the question appeared on the November 5 ballot:

Shall the City Council of the City of Myrtle Beach be empowered to issue and sell, either as a single issue or as several issues, general obligation bonds of the City of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, in the principal amount of not exceeding $10,000,000, the proceeds of which shall be applied to defray the cost of construction of an Auditorium and Performing Arts Facility on the site of the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, together with related costs such as architectural and engineering fees and costs of issuance of such bonds?

All results from the Nov. 5 election are unofficial until certified.

Click here - http://www.wmbfnews.com/category/152328/live-election-results - for live election results to see which mayoral and town council candidates received the most votes.

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