MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) – The hospitality fee fight between Horry County and Myrtle Beach may soon be coming to an end.
“We think we have an agreement, so the next step is it will have to be briefed to council and that’s scheduled for tomorrow,” said Johnny Gardner, Chairman of Horry County Council.
The Myrtle Beach City Council has called a special meeting 6 p.m. Tuesday and on the agenda is to “approve a settlement agreement in principle in the Hospitality Fee litigation and to authorize execution of said agreement.”
WMBF News reached out to Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune about the possible settlement and she stated, “Both the City and the County have been working very well together in an effort to reach a settlement proposal in principle. I left our last meeting with the belief that we will move forward with presenting the proposal to our entire bodies for approval.”
The meeting will be held in ballroom A-B-C in the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.
Horry County, Myrtle Beach and other municipalities have been caught in a bitter battle for more than a year over who can collect hospitality fees.
“We’ll see what happens, first off if we have an agreement, " said Gardner.
The city of Myrtle Beach filed a lawsuit in March 2019 that accuses the county of illegally collecting hospitality tax money without their consent.
At issue in the lawsuit is a resolution passed in 1996 that allowed Horry County to collect a 1.5% hospitality tax.
That resolution was set to expire in 2017, but the county passed an ordinance in December 2016 that extends the Sunset Provision on the 1.5% hospitality fee to Jan. 1, 2022. Myrtle Beach city leaders said they did not give their consent to this.
Since that time there have been numerous injunctions and appeals brought by Horry County and Myrtle Beach. Other local municipalities such as North Myrtle Beach and Surfside Beach have joined in on the lawsuit with Myrtle Beach. All of the municipalities involved in the lawsuit will have to agree to the settlement.
“Nothing is perfect, but I think this is good for everyone in Horry County. All the citizens of Horry County and that includes the residence in the municipality,” Gardner said.
This proposed settlement comes just days before the lawsuit is scheduled to go before the South Carolina Supreme Court on Aug. 19. Gardner said despite having a possible settlement, the case will still be presented before the state Supreme Court.
“Logistically we just don’t have enough time to schedule a meeting for all the municipalities to have a briefing, have the votes and get all the documents ready,”
Gardner explained that they hope to have the settlement reached before a judge makes a ruling on the case, would could take weeks.
Both Myrtle Beach City Council and Horry County Council will hold meetings Tuesday night to discuss the proposed settlement.