Tax dollars could bring funding for more police officers - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Tax dollars could bring funding for more police officers

Myrtle Beach could see more funding for law enforcement. (Source: WMBF News) Myrtle Beach could see more funding for law enforcement. (Source: WMBF News)

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF NEWS) - Many residents are wondering how the city can get more officers on the street to protect everyone following this weekend’s shootings in Myrtle Beach.

There has been talk among city leaders and state legislatures about how to do just that.

The city wants to take money from the tourism tax and use it to put more police officers on the street. However, it’s not as simple as putting the money wherever you want it to go.

Currently, state law only allows the tourism tax to be used for marketing through the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.

Law enforcement in Myrtle Beach does get some money from the chamber through accommodations tax funding, but the city said if it could get the law changed, money from the tourism tax could go a long way in providing safety.

"If we could get a 70-20-10 distribution out of the tourism development fee, we'd have enough money for maybe 50 new police officers,” said Mark Kruea, spokesperson for Myrtle Beach.

However, trying to amend the tourism tax could be a lengthy process because it’s such a new law. Amending it could take longer than a year to process.

House Representative Alan Clemmons said that taking money from the accommodations tax – or ATAX – would be a better idea.

In 2014, Clemmons pushed for a proviso of the state law that says tax money is only supposed to be used for tourism services.

This proviso allowed some of the tax money to go toward funding law enforcement just for Memorial Day weekend. This comes after Myrtle Beach saw multiple shootings during that time, resulting in three deaths.  

Clemmons said amending that proviso might allow for more money to be allocated toward law enforcement outside of Memorial Day weekend.

He said he wants to send a message to people that Myrtle Beach is a safe place and violence will not be tolerated, and "that our enforcement is at a level that families are safe and that criminal elements get the message that they are unwanted.”

Clemmons believes that the best way to provide funding for more police officers is through the existing proviso that is already in place, which impacts the accommodations tax distribution.

Proposing to amend the proviso could be a much easier process and occur within one legislative year. This would move along much faster than amending the tourism tax.

Before any proposal to amend the proviso is made, Clemmons wants the city to present a plan. Once he has a plan in hand, he will then propose an amendment, which will then go through the committee process.

From there, it will be presented on the House floor and then move to the Senate for consideration.

Clemmons doesn't anticipate any hesitation from his delegation.

“I don't mean to speak for my delegation, but I think at least for the most part, our delegation will speak with a united voice and rally around supporting local law enforcement in Myrtle Beach," he said.

If the plan that is presented is more than what that measure of funding will allow, Clemmons said he is willing to consider more funding options.

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