Horry County councilmen are preparing to use their last option to extend the contract one more year with the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce to manage 30 percent of its state accommodation taxes and promote tourism along the Grand Strand.
About $1 million a year goes to the chamber under the contract negotiated in 2013 that expires next year. The current contract is for three years, with two, one-year options.
A council committee this week agreed unanimously and without discussion to send the final-year continuance to the full council for consideration at their July 11 meeting.
Asked whether the contract could have been awarded to another group, Councilman Dennis DiSabato said it makes more sense to complete the contract with the chamber before deciding whether another agency or even the county takes over tourism promotion spending.
The Chamber of Commerce has been the recent target of some area residents who are critical of the amount of tax dollars it is awarded.
At the Myrtle Beach City Council meeting last week to address the mass shooting on Ocean Boulevard, several speakers urged the council to use some of the $30 million it sends to the chamber on hiring more police officers.
County residents also are urging the county council to withhold funding from the chamber because of the city’s beach parking policy that charges county and other non-city residents an hourly parking rate.
“We would have to submit a new (request for proposal) and get all that squared away in order to take those funds away from the Chamber of Commerce, and we might as well do that (proposal) next year when the contract has expired,” DiSabato said.
Meanwhile, council members will be reviewing the chamber’s spending reports that are regularly reviewed by the Tourism Expenditure Review Committee.
“We really want to make sure the money is spent wisely and provides our tax dollars with a return of investment,” said DiSabato, who requested the reports for review.
Next year, the request for bids will go out for all nonprofit agencies to apply, and a new county contract will be awarded.
County Councilman Tyler Servant said they will be look for an organization that can get the best use of the money to bring in tourists.
“At the end of the day, when you are looking at spending taxpayer money, no matter what it’s going for, whether it be accommodation taxes for public safety or fire fighting funds, you’ve got to look at spending the money wisely to get the best return on investment for the taxpayer,” Servant said.