Horry County approves funding for Coast RTA

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Horry County approved a total of $1,055,000 in funding for Coast RTA Tuesday night, but despite being the third and final reading, the decision did not come easily.

During Tuesday's County Council meeting, Coast RTA's funding proposal was on the agenda as a final reading. Chairman Mark Lazarus worked with both parties to put together a draft agreement. Coast RTA received the agreement on June 3.

They came back with changes that some council members say caught them off guard. But others feel the changes are necessary.

"Intrusive...controlling...and it put the county in the bus business. The Horry County Government does not need to be in the bus business. It needs to support a bus transportation system," explains Councilman Bob Grabowski.

Although some council members were overwhelmed by the changes, County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus agrees with the changes made, and says it's a happy medium between the two parties.

"It takes us out of the micro management of it and allows the board to continue to operate it," he says.

Council members say Coast RTA's rocky past is a concern for them and played a part in today's long discussion about whether or not to approve the changes to the funding agreement.

"What it boils down to...not providing services they were paid for and I think that was a huge mistake, management-wise," explains Councilman Grabowski.

But Lazarus remains confident the Coast RTA board hears the council's concerns and sees their willingness to push forward and work to their full potential for the county.

"We would like to be given the opportunity to prove to ourselves that we are accountable and we do spend our dollars wisely," says interim GM and CEO of Coast RTA, Julie Norton-Dew.

Although the county has accepted some of the organizations changes, Chairman Lazarus believes they still have the role they need within Coast RTA. They will have a forensic audit allowing them to go back three years into Coast RTA's records to promise a fresh start to the future CEO.

"There will be clean books for them to get started with and move forward. I think it's a new beginning for not only Coast RTA but the Horry County council and the people of Horry County," Lazarus says.

The interim GM and CEO of Coast RTA was served a lawsuit before the meeting by the former CEO of the organization, Myers Rollins. She says it is a lengthy law suit and they need the time to go over it.

They have 30 days to respond, but she is pleased to say they got over their first big hurdle tonight and got the funding they needed to become successful again.

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