Surfside Beach council discuss how to spend American Rescue Plan funds

Published: Sep. 27, 2022 at 11:37 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 27, 2022 at 11:38 PM EDT
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SURFSIDE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - There was plenty of discussion at Tuesday night’s Surfside Town council meeting, over a forensic audit recommendation. It would cost an estimated $100,000.

“I can’t follow the thing, and they couldn’t either. I had a CPA friend of mine take a look at it and he said the same thing,” said councilmember Michael Drake.

“I don’t see that we need a forensic audit for no reason whatsoever except to prove to the town citizens that we’re not doing anything illegal,” said councilmember Chris Stamey.

Town Administrator William Shanahan Jr. said there isn’t anything illegal going on, he just feels the need for transparency for Surfside Beach residents.

“They need to know we’re not wasting their money, they need to know we’re not misappropriating or doing anything illegal with the money. They need to know we’re willing to open up our books and let anybody see,” said Shanahan.

Included in the books, is the construction of the Surfside Beach pier, with an estimated cost of completion of around $23 million. Director of finance, Diane King, broke down how they arrived at that number.

“With the things we project, the inspectors, grand strand water, Collins, parking lot contingency, we expect the total estimated cost to be over $19 million dollars,” said King. “We have to add in the debt and then we have to do a payout between now and then on the regular interest payments, so the total would be over $23 million. Obviously, that changes all the time.”

There was talk of using some of the American Rescue Plan funds towards the cost of the pier.

“This money is strictly unencumbered money right now if you want to move the money to the pier, as long as we tell the Federal Government that’s what we’re going to do with it,” said King.

The town would have to use FEMA money, then use the bond, and utilize money from the state and local revenue, before they can use ARP funds.

The council decided to take up the American Rescue Plan fund allocation in January, and allow the town administrator to draw up a request for a proposal for an auditor.