Editorial | Kudos on the Spending Reports

January 24, 2013 

The remarkable thing about the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce’s spending reports lately have been how unremarkable they’ve been.

Yes, reports like the most recent ones that cover promotional efforts for last summer provide sometimes interesting details of how the city’s tourism sales tax is being spent. We can learn about the more than $55,000 spent to build a 15-ton sand sculpture of President Obama during the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte last year. Or the $85,000 that went to golfer Dustin Johnson for his services as a spokesman.

But we’re not marketing experts. The role of The Sun News editorial board has never been to dispute whether individual expenses are wise or effective, though we continue to be interested in determining the real effect of the efforts as a whole. The chamber works with plenty of marketing and promotion gurus who can cite the value of spending these funds, and who work hard to bring more visitors to our shores and power our tourism industry. Our job, as we see it, is to primarily ensure that the public that is funding these efforts can at least be informed of where their money is going and what they’re getting in return.

We complained in the past that the chamber’s spending reports offered either few details or confusing details, merging public and private spending in a way that obscured where our tax dollars were actually going. That practice has thankfully ended after intervention from Myrtle Beach City Council, and any interested parties can now easily learn how much public money was spent with what company and for what purpose.

This is exactly the way the tax and its spending should work. If we provide the chamber with public money – nearly $60 million by now – it has a duty to tell us exactly where that money is going. That’s now occurring with regularity. We’ve had little to say on the matter for almost a year now, precisely because there’s little to say, except perhaps, keep up the good work.

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