Funding requests for a slice of $2.5 million in accommodations tax revenue far outweigh the amount of money Horry County expects to collect, meaning tough decisions for elected officials heading into final budget negotiations.
Money collected from a 2 percent tax on stays in hotels and at other lodging is allocated to a special fund for tourism expenditures that includes funding for law enforcement during Atlantic Beach Bike Fest over Memorial Day weekend, but agencies and non-profits are asking for a total of nearly $4 million in 2017 fiscal year dollars.
“It’s an undesirable situation from a funding perspective,” said Barry Spivey, Horry County finance director. “There’s not enough money to go around, that’s an obvious thing.”
Horry County Council will make its final funding decisions at a budget retreat April 28. The 2017 fiscal year begins July 1.
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The most significant chunk of money, more than $1 million, would pay for a contract with the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce for tourism promotion.
More than $400,000 is being sought to pay for police, fire and rescue operations during the bike festival, and more than $785,000 for beach patrol. More than $500,000 would be set aside for matching funding to receive state beach renourishment funding, and $700,000 is being requested for beach cleanup and litter operations.
$4 millionRequested funds from A tax
Mark Lazarus, Horry County Council chairman, said during a council committee meeting Tuesday that it will be tough to decide who gets money and who doesn’t.
“The public depends on a lot of these priorities,” Lazarus said. “We just started the road-side litter program and we’re not going to cut it because we’re seeing results. And, we can’t cut beach patrols.”
Additionally, the requests include $116,000 for landscaping and beautification along U.S. 501 and in Garden City Beach.
The panel will recommend to the full council that funding remain as close to previous year levels as possible.
Nearly $500,000 in new funding requests were denied by the council committee, including pleas from the Waccamaw Indian Tribe, Arcadian Shores Special Tax District, Myrtle Beach Family Campground Association and Lake Murray Drag Boat Association.
Also denied were requests from the Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum for $5,000 and a separate request from the North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce for nearly $200,000.
Non-profit requests that will share in a pot of $188,000 that were initially approved include the Coast Futbol Alliance, Arcadian Shore Drive Community Association, South Strand Campground Association, Claire Chapin Epps Family YMCA, American Heart Association, Long Bay Symphony, Little River Chamber of Commerce, Blue Crab Festival in Little River and Garden City Beach Community Association.