City considers cutting in-kind services for festivals, events

City considers cutting in-kind services for festivals, events

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Feet on the street, and dollars through the doors. That's the mission for local businesses capitalizing on the tourism industry here on the Grand Strand. However, the cents don't make sense to certain Myrtle Beach City Councilmembers. It could end up costing you your favorite event.

Here's how it works. Certain groups receive funding from the Accommodations Tax. The City is considering that those groups benefiting from the A-TAX shouldn't get financial help from the City for in-kind services.

Usually, the City of Myrtle Beach co-sponsors events, picking up the tab for services such as trash pick-up and police on patrol. Now, a resolution is proposed that, "effective January 1, 2016, entities that receive grants from accommodations tax funding or outside agency funding are ineligible to request in-kind services or free facility use."

One non-profit which falls in that category is the Oceanfront Merchants Association.

The Executive Director for OMA, Peggy Iverson, said the group has always appreciate the City's support in the past and in the present.

However, it doesn't add up to her.

Iverson pointed out the City has warehouses with the barriers and trashcans needed for events. The city workers are already on the clock, being paid for their regular work-week and could cover the events.

To rent all of that equipment and pay for the labor would be incredibly costly for the non-profit.

In addition, Iverson explained the City requires OMA to hire off-duty officers for a price of $35 per hour.

This resolution would pile on upwards of ten thousand dollars to that bill.

OMA, according to Iverson, has an operating budget of $670 thousand, which is mostly privately raised from local businesses and sponsors. $140 thousand comes from the A-TAX.

That A-TAX money is earmarked for advertising to area. The events and festivals put on by groups like OMA help bring those people to town.

"The mayor says that downtown [Myrtle Beach] is the heartbeat of the city. But it isnt just about wood, boards, brick and mortar. It is the experience and the memories bringing people back here," argued Iverson.

If the resolution passes, the fees could kick in at the beginning of next year.

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