Bikefest safety funds coming out of property owners' pockets

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Property taxes are going up in Myrtle Beach. The extra money is going to go towards controlling crowds over Memorial Day Weekend. If you own property in the city, you're going to see a two mill increase hit your tax bill this October.

Homeowners will pay an extra $16 a year based on a $200,000 home. Business owners will pay an extra $24 on a $200,000 commercial property.

In June, the South Carolina General Assembly allowed jurisdictions in Horry County to use 30 percent of accommodations tax money to pay for extra security during Bikefest.

However, city council wasn't sure that would be enough to cover all the funding needed to implement the safety plan.

That's why Myrtle Beach leaders passed the two mill tax hike Tuesday.

There is no expiration set on this tax, however, the city council says ideally, it will go away in a year or two, once the issues pertaining to the weekend go away.

If there are leftover funds from the new tax, they will be used for other expenses.

This two mill tax increase is in addition to the three mill increase the city passed earlier this year to pay for ten additional year-round police officers.

City Manager Tom Leath says during yesterday's city council meeting and second reading for this tax increase, the city did hold a public hearing on this issue.

Mark Kruea, city spokesman says, "The city council heard the public, the public said very clearly after Memorial Day, do something about the issues. And the plan that we've identified is about a $1.6, $1.7 million plan. We got some money from the accommodations tax, we want to make sure that we have enough to do it, so part of the final budget reassessment process council approved the 2 mill increase yesterday."

Even with that security plan and funding for it in place, the city still encourages business owners to hire their own security.

Kruea says, "We will have additional law enforcement on Ocean Boulevard and throughout the community to help handle the issues that arose, but we still expect the property owners to manage whatever occurs on their property."

But that has some business owner concerned about another added cost.

"We're not able to hire more than one or two, you know, because it is costly, says Julianna Perez, Owner of Gazebo Inn. "You're looking over $20 an hour as a rule, and you know we're here at the desk 24 hours on a weekend like that."

The tax hike will generate more than $600,000. That money, along with the accommodations tax revenue, will cover the nearly $2 million plan to help prevent another deadly weekend like Memorial Day from happening again.

You can view the complete text of the ordinance in PDF format here:

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