HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – County leaders said recreation centers in the western part of Horry County are necessary, and something they’ve been planning for a long time, but where the funding will come from is the question.
Horry County councilman Johnny Vaught said the county has struggled with rec center funding for some time. He said, previously, they had to find other sources and increase fees to make sure all three rec centers stayed open.
"If we did not come up with another funding source, or something to increase the funding for the three recreation centers that we have, we were going to have to shut down one or more of them,” said Vaught.
There is a recreation center on the South Strand, the North Strand and in Carolina Forest. Vaught said each center costs about $500,000 annually to operate.
“We had to do something to try to, for at least some period of time, to shore that up so we could at least keep things going,” said Vaught.
Ultimately, the county was able to raise fees in other areas to cover the current recreation center costs. Now leaders are looking for additional funding to keep a steady flow coming into the current rec centers, in addition to building new ones.
"We still have the hospitality fee money that’s sitting out there,” said Vaught.
However, because there’s a pending lawsuit over that money, it will remain untouched until that is resolved.
"Now once this is settled and assuming that its settled in our favor, then we’ve got a continuing and growing source of funding for the recreation centers,” said Vaught.
Vaught said the need for recreation centers in the western section of the county is strong.
"Look at all the softball and baseball championships they’re winning up there and they’re doing it with minimum facilities. So, they really deserve some help. The whole western part of the county does,” said Vaught.
Vaught said the county could also explore the idea of impact fees to allow more funding. He said the next steps will be to wait and see what happens with the hospitality fee lawsuit.