I suggest the Tourism Development Tax be changed in 2019 when it expires and renamed the Tourism Benefit Tax so checks thereafter are written to residents instead of to the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.
This will help make up for inconveniences residents endure due to increased traffic and major events such as the bike weeks. City residents working in tourism who can’t afford to attend any tourism venues could do so if they don’t use their benefit funds to pay bills or buy their children food and clothes. They still could not afford the $6,000+ fee for a couple to go on this November’s trip to the French Riviera, just one of many trips to Europe that the chamber is currently advertising.
Of the thousands of jobs here in tourism, how many pay a living wage? Over half of the children attending Horry County schools are on a reduced or free lunch program. Paid to city residents, the money would be primarily retained and recirculated here instead of being spent out of state.
According to Mike Shelton, CFO of the city, the chamber is slated to receive about $20,000,000 this year for “out of market” advertising. If we divide this amount by the number of adult residents here, and if there are 20,000 adult residents, each adult would be sent a check from the city for $1,000 at the fiscal year’s end. According to City-data.com Myrtle Beach’s population in 2013 was 29,175, which includes children. A family of 2 adults with one adult child could get $3,000 in the example above with $20 million in tax paid to 20,000 adults.
Alaska provides funds divided up evenly among all residents with payouts funded from oil royalties. Myrtle Beach’s resource is tourism. Other cities give away land or homes to get people to move there.
Many people have moved to Myrtle Beach, such as to Market Common, since the tax was implemented and do not realize they pay an extra 1 percent in the city for this tax on prepared food such as restaurant meals, mixed liquor drinks, and retail purchases of clothes, books, shoes, computers, etc. So shoppers of all socioeconomic backgrounds pay a tax that goes to the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber. The tax is also collected on accommodations and other guest charges.
The tax was enabled by legislation at the state and city levels and implemented in 2009 without a public referendum and lasts for up to 10 years until 2019. From the tax, 80 percent is paid to the chamber whereas the remaining 20 percent goes toward property tax relief, which we homeowners want to keep, and also to capital projects decided on by the city, which is also still needed.
I ran a hotel in the late ‘70s that was a member of the chamber, and I have paid in the past for my current company to be a member. From its inception the chamber solicits members and advertises for them. The chamber and tourism did well for decades without our tax money, and they will do so again. Tourism is now at over 17 million visitors a year, which is double what all the Hawaiian islands receive.
Chamber funding for advertising should not be provided by taxpayers any more than taxpayers should advertise my business. I propose the aforementioned change for 2019 and invite those who are like-minded to join with me in this endeavor. I can be reached at 843-448-8413 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dunham is a resident of the Grand Strand since 1976 and is owner of Executive Services in Myrtle Beach, which provides resume composition and office support services to businesses and individuals.
Editor’s note: Both the state House and Senate have passed bills allowing the 1 percent Myrtle Beach sales tax to be reimposed without a referendum. The bills are expected to be finalized within the month.