Horry County Council passes ATAX funding

bdickerson@thesunnews.comFebruary 5, 2013 

— Horry County Council on Tuesday passed a resolution to fund agencies with accommodations tax, but not before some confusion and frustration among members of the council.

At the heart of the confusion was money going toward a youth soccer group, and the question of whether tax dollars are better spent for public safety or recreation activities.

The ATAX funds – monies generated through hotel and motel bookings – of more than $383,000 will go toward public safety, county government and local organizations, the council decided.

Some ATAX funding will go toward an air show that will take place in Myrtle Beach in June to commemorate the city’s 75th anniversary.

Originally, a little more than $41,100 was budgeted for advertising the show through the 5 percent restricted portion of the ATAX monies held by the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce for tourism promotion.

Councilman Brent Schulz made a motion to increase the amount to an even $80,000 that would go to the Horry County Airport Department to be used strictly for advertising. The motion passed unanimously.

Things became confusing when Councilman Al Allen made a motion to increase ATAX funding from $7,500 to $50,000 for Coast Futbol Alliance, a local youth soccer organization.

Allen made his case that supporting organizations like Coast Futbol, which he said has seen tremendous growth over the past five years, helps with bringing in more tourists and more tourism dollars to support the ATAX fund.

Councilman Harold Worley felt that additional funding should go toward other areas, such as public safety, instead of to these types of groups. He added the $7,500 originally recommended was sufficient to help Coast Futbol.

“We have limited dollars to spend,” Worley said.

Councilman Bob Grabowski supported giving Coast Futbol more money, and believed investing in groups with a positive track record would benefit the area.

“You can’t kill the chicken that lays the eggs just because you’re hungry,” Allen said, referencing Horry County’s tourism-based economy.

The Horry County Accommodations Tax Advisory Committee advised that funding not go beyond $394,000, roughly $10,000 more than the recommended amount that came out of the county’s administration committee, and the full council discussed at Tuesday’s meeting.

The ATAC met Nov. 28 and Dec. 12, 2012 to hear and consider requests from various agencies for the 2013 fiscal year, which ends June 30.

By increasing Coast Futbol funding from $7,500 to $50,000, and factoring in that $10,000 of unaccounted for dollars, the council was tasked with where to find roughly $32,000 in additional funds.

Numbers were passed back and forth as council members became confused over the figures. Some members were visibly stressed, while there was whispered frustration from some in the audience.

Finally, the council decided to take the $32,000 from $100,000 that had been set to go to Horry County beach cleanup to build a new equipment shed for beach patrol. Now, the beach cleanup will receive $68,000.

The amended resolution passed 8-3, with council members Marion Foxworth, Paul Prince and Worley opposing.

Contact BRAD DICKERSON at 626-0301 or follow him at Twitter.com/TSN_bdickerson.

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