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Grand Strand lawyer says future of Horry County leftover RIDE ll dollars unclear

Published: Nov. 22, 2021 at 7:45 PM EST
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Millions of dollars are potentially up for grabs in leftover money once earmarked for road projects in Horry County.

The funds were tied to the RIDE ll project and now at least one city wants its share.

Last month, Horry County leaders voted to put nearly $30 million of leftover RIDE ll dollars towards Highway 90 road improvements.

But concerns were raised from some councilmembers about the city of North Myrtle Beach wanting a piece of those funds.

North Myrtle Beach leaders previously went on the record saying they’re owed close to $6 million of Horry County’s leftover Ride dollars. NMB leaders said it’s because that amount of money was collected in their jurisdiction.

The city previously provided email documentation to WMBF News, written by North Myrtle Beach city manager Mike Mahaney, addressed to Horry Councilmember Harold Worley, stating the city wants its portion of the collections.

Goldfinch Winslow attorney Tom Winslow says he understands why NMB is requesting the money. But he says only time will tell who prevails because history may or may not repeat itself.

Winslow says the RIDE ll concerns mirror what Horry County leaders faced with the Hospitality fee lawsuit.

Multiple municipalities including North Myrtle sued Horry County, stating they were entitled to the hospitality portions collected within their boundaries.

A settlement agreement between Horry County and those jurisdictions was reached earlier this year.

Winslow says although the core concerns are who’s entitled to collect the money are similar, he says the tax laws for RIDE ll and Hospitality collection differ.

He says that means it’s a bit harder to determine which party will prevail if this matter ever made it to the courts.

“They’ve settled a case very similar to that,” Winslow said. “Now this one has a separate law and a separate rule that you have to look at in correlation with the actual monies collected. How it’s going to shape up and turn out - who knows. Just because hospitality tax worked out one way, doesn’t mean the road tax will work out the same way, because they’re two different code sections, two different laws, that dictate the input and the output.”

Depending on what happens with NMB, Winslow says he wouldn’t be surprised if other surrounding jurisdictions also wanted a piece of the pie.

“If North Myrtle Beach is going to make that argument, it’s very logical to think that Myrtle Beach, Surfside, all these other ones are going to make that same exact argument. No one is doing anything right or wrong. That’s why they need to come together and do what’s best for the city. I understand the concept on both sides. Here is the issue the county has-almost every major population center is a city. If you strip the jurisdiction of the county to use city money, then where’s the county going to get the money they need to take care of the rural roads, the non-city roads, because now you’re taking away all the population base. It does create a detrimental effect if the county can’t use the city population to help fund the non-city territories, it really strips a lot of that funding of population [for them] to actually be able to do that with.”

Based on an agenda, NMB leaders were discussing the RIDE ll funds during an executive meeting Tuesday afternoon.

The city’s spokesperson said the council took no votes during the session.

As of now, no action has been taken on this issue.

“The best thing to do [now], is for all groups to come together, early, and talk instead of automatically going into a litigation,” Winslow said. “Because all that does is spend a lot of money on attorney bills and a lot of time in court that could be worked out around the table.”

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