Disclosure forms filed by the Horry County Council with the state Ethics Commission shows that two councilmen reported business contract bids they won with the county in 2016.
Mark Lazarus, Horry County Council chairman and part owner of Wild Water Ventures, disclosed his company’s contract with the county for $19,500 to purchase passes at the water park for children who attend the county’s summer camp.
Councilman Al Allen, part owner of Allen Aviation that provides aerial spraying services for mosquito control, won that contract last year for $49,550.
Lazarus is the only councilman who disclosed receiving any gifts — $1,500 in travel expenses from the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corp.
Never miss a local story.
The money paid half of the cost of a plane ticket for his trip to China with Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes.
The other half of the plane ticket plus some meals and expenses were paid for out of the chairman’s county travel account that was budgeted last year for $5,500.
“I paid for a lot of things out of pocket like taxi rides and some meals,” Lazarus said. “I just paid it myself and didn’t turn in any receipts or charge anything to the county.”
Rhodes previously has traveled to China to encourage businesses there to expand to Myrtle Beach. Last year, Lazarus went on one trip with Rhodes.
Lazarus owns 25 percent of Wild Water and Wheels Water Park, which began contracting with the county for summer passes about 10 years ago, before he was elected to the council, Lazarus said.
Horry County holds 10 weeks of summer camp, which last year was attended by 4,541 children from the Aynor, Carolina Forest, North Strand and South Strand recreation centers.
Instead of selling one pass per child as sold commercially, the water park bid for the contract that allows any of the thousands of children attending the camp to use one of the 368 passes during weekly field trips.
“The way the county does the program, this gives a lot of kids who would never have the opportunity to go to a water park the opportunity to enjoy an amenity like that,” Lazarus said.
The total cost for that number of children to go without the special contract would total nearly a quarter-million dollars.
The cost of the camp per week is $70 and includes other field trips for kayaking, going to movies in Market Common, swimming pools and history farms, said Lisa Bourcier, Horry County spokeswoman.
Allen said he has a minority interest in the aviation company and acts as chief pilot, while the company is operated by his wife, Shanda Allen, who is a member of the Horry County School Board.
The company has been contracting with the county since 2002 for mosquito spraying services, but during two of those years, they lost the contract to a lower bid from a Charleston company, Allen said.
“In the mid 2000, Horry County used us a lot more because they did a lot more proactive maintenance in spraying. But in the last three years, there’s been a decline in spraying,” Allen said.
“With the flood and hurricanes in the last few years, Berkley County, another customer of ours, sprayed a lot more afterward,” Allen said.
“But I’ve stayed away from that change, because I am on the council and don’t want to get involved and be accused of pushing for it,” Allen said.
The state Ethics Commission requires that elected officials file statements of economic interests annually by March 31.
The rules state that public officials disclose outside businesses they own and how they are paid, such as salaries, commission or contract. It does not require the amount of private income to be listed except for the money paid for serving in public office.
Horry County Councilmen earned $15,966 in 2016 plus expenses, and have a $4,000 travel budget.
The council chairman was paid $25,750 in salary last year, plus expenses and a $5,500 travel budget.
Economic interest declared by Horry County Council
Mark Lazarus, chairman: $25,750 in county salary; $19,559 in benefits and expenses for a total $45,309. Lazarus declared family income from Waccamaw Land & Timber, Wild Water Ventures, and Grand Prix Race Parks, Inc. Lazarus claimed one gift from Myrtle Beach Economic Development for $1,500, and the $19,500 contract for summer camp water park passes.
Al Allen, councilman: $15,966 in county salary, $2,666 in benefits and expenses for a total of $18,632. Allen claimed the aviation spraying contract for $49,550. He did not claim any gifts.
Cam Crawford, councilman: $15,966 in county salary, $20,449 in benefits and expenses for a total of $36,415. Crawford also disclosed his salary from Coastal at $19,313. Other businesses reported by Crawford include Crescent Communications and Crawford Properties. Family interests disclosed include BHHS Myrtle Beach and Palmetto Association Services. Crawford also disclosed salary, expenses and subsistence reported by his wife, State Rep. Heather Ammons Crawford, at a total of $60,964.
Dennis DiSabato, councilman: DiSabato’s term as council began in January, so he did not have county income to claim from 2016. He did file a report and listed his law firm as his outside income and business as well as Strand Hospitality Services as family income. He also claimed ownership of Empire Title Agency, and a member of DD&G Holdings, LLC.
Danny Hardee, councilman: His term did not begin until January so he did not have to file a report.
Gary Loftus, councilman: $15,966 in county salary, $13,427 in benefits and expenses for a total $29,393. Loftus also revealed his personal income, including $87,797 from Coastal Carolina University, and $1,600 in family income from Horry County Schools. He did not claim any gifts.
William Howard, councilman: $15,966 in county salary, $17,485 in benefits and expenses for a total $33,451. He listed his business interests as owner of Half Shell, Inc., Atlantic Restaurant Group, and owner/partner in the Alabama Theater. He did not claim any gifts.
Johnny Vaught, councilman: $15,966 in county salary, $7,790 in benefits and expenses for a total $23,756. He did not list any other business or gifts.
Paul Prince, councilman: $15,966 in county salary, $17,939 in benefits and expenses for a total $33,905. He did not list any other business or gifts.
Harold Phillips, councilman: Phillips, who took office last summer in a special election, listed his salary, benefits and expenses at $12,592. He did not list any business or gifts.
Tyler Servant, councilman: $15,966 in salary. He itemized his other payment as $9,028 in benefits, $1,182 in expenses, $600 for an iPad and $448 for a cellphone. He also disclosed that personal income comes from Coalwood Trading, LLC, My Media, LLC, Surfside Realty Company and Merrill Lynch. He did not list any gifts.
Harold Worley, councilman: $15,966 in salary, $8,984 in benefits and expenses for a total $24,950. He did not list any gifts.
The state Ethics Commission allows for a five-day grace period after the deadline for officials to file or amend reports.