Myrtle Beach sues Horry County to recover hospitality fees

Updated: Mar. 20, 2019 at 6:24 PM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – The city of Myrtle Beach has filed a lawsuit against Horry County, claiming the county collected millions of dollars in hospitality fees illegally.

According to the lawsuit filed Wednesday, Horry County passed a resolution in 1996 to begin collecting the 1.5 percent hospitality tax in the unincorporated areas and the municipalities to help fund road projects through the RIDE I program. Myrtle Beach city leaders adopted a resolution supporting the tax.

It became effective on Jan. 1, 1997 and was to expire on Jan. 1, 2017.

In December 2016, the county enacted an ordinance to extend the termination date of the hospitality tax’s “Sunset Provision” to Jan. 1, 2022. Myrtle Beach claims in the lawsuit that their consent was never sought prior to the ordinance’s enactment.

“On information and belief, County Council likewise did not seek the consent of any of the other of the Municipalities prior to the enactment of (the ordinance),” the lawsuit states.

Myrtle Beach leaders are seeking a refund of the hospitality fee paid on the sale of food, beverages, accommodations and amusements sold within the city since Jan. 1, 2017.

Over the last few weeks, Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach and Surfside Beach have enacted resolutions to keep their hospitality fees instead of sending them to the county.

Both Kelly Moore and Mark Kruea, spokespersons for Horry County and Myrtle Beach, respectively, said their governing bodies do not comment on pending litigation.

Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune wouldn’t comment on the matter. Horry County Council Chairman Johnny Gardner told WMBF News that in his experience, it’s always better to sit down and talk things out in situations like this rather than bringing them to a judge.

The lawsuit can be read in full below:

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