Horry County’s hospitality fee, I-73 battle makes its way to Statehouse

Myrtle Beach City Council discusses I-73 (Source: WMBF News)
Myrtle Beach City Council discusses I-73 (Source: WMBF News)
Updated: Nov. 20, 2019 at 8:12 PM EST
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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – Local lawmakers have pre-filed a bill in the Statehouse in an effort to keep I-73 plans from stalling out.

This comes one day after Horry County Council voted to cancel its I-73 contract with the South Carolina Department of Transportation.

County leaders said they don’t have the funding that they once promised the agency.

It’s because they were relying on hospitality fees to help pay for the project that would bring the interstate into Myrtle Beach. But in March, Myrtle Beach filed a lawsuit, accusing the county of illegally taking millions of dollars in hospitality fees from municipalities.

[ Myrtle Beach sues Horry County to recover hospitality fees ]

Since then the county has been caught up in a legal battle with the municipalities and have not been able to collect hospitality fees.

But on Wednesday, state representatives Alan Clemmons, Russell Fry, Heather Ammons Crawford and Tim McGinnis pre-filed a bill that takes control of the decision over who receives the money out of the hands of the county and city leaders.

“We’re going to keep kicking down the road, well, the Statehouse is where that can is going to stop if it’s going to keep getting kicked,” Clemmons said.

The bill would allow the county to continue to collect a portion of hospitality fees and accommodations taxes, but it would also give the municipalities the portion of the hospitality fee that they’re fighting keep.

“Myrtle Beach would get what they want, control of the statutory fee and it would allow the county to collect their statutory fees which apply to all the unincorporated areas of the county and then the county would also be collecting the grandfathered local hospitality fee,” Clemmons said.

The money collected would go toward the construction of I-73 and then once that’s completed, the hospitality fee money would go toward any other infrastructure projects in Horry County.

Clemmons added that he will only move forward with the legislation if the county and municipalities don’t come to an agreement in court. There is currently a proposed agreement on the table the county and municipalities have to review and vote on. If all seven governments involved agree on the resolution, they will take it to court and it has to be approved by the judge.

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