HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – The fight over hospitality fees could be closer to coming to an end.
A hearing is set Wednesday morning where Horry County and Myrtle Beach will present the settlement agreement in the hospitality fee lawsuit.
Myrtle Beach filed a lawsuit in March 2019 against Horry County, claiming that the county was illegally taking millions of dollars in hospitality fees from the municipalities.
It stems from a resolution passed in 1996 that allowed Horry County to collect a 1.5% hospitality tax. The money was spent on numerous road projects throughout the county.
The resolution was slated to expire in 2017.
But in December 2016, the county passed an ordinance that extended the Sunset Provision on the 1.5% hospitality fee to Jan. 1, 2022. According to Myrtle Beach leaders, the county did not receive their consent.
It was announced in early September that Horry County and all the municipalities involved in the case reached a settlement agreement.
Now it’s up to the judge to approve of the settlement.
The county provided some key points in the settlement that are subject to court approval:
- That the municipalities retroactively consent to the County’s Hospitality Fee and resumption of collections within those municipalities;
- That Hospitality Fee monies collected within the municipalities will be distributed to the municipalities from where they were collected on a monthly basis, minus a one percent administration fee;
- That the municipalities agree to repeal any new Hospitality/Accommodations Taxes/Fees that were imposed after January 1, 2019, effective on the date collection of the Hospitality Fee within the municipalities resumes;
- That the municipalities may reimpose these new taxes/fees if the County stops collecting the Hospitality Fee in those municipalities at any time in the future;
- That after deduction for costs, fees, expenses and claims, 50% of what remains of the $19 million (primarily from monies collected within the municipalities between January 1, 2017, and the effective date of the preliminary injunction) is proportionately distributed back to the municipalities from where the Fee was collected; and
- That distribution of the remaining 50% will be determined by the court
If a judge approves of the settlement then the case heard by the South Carolina Supreme Court over an injunction connected to the hospitality fee lawsuit will moot.