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Carolina Country Music Festival to receive thousands in tax dollars

jlee@thesunnews

The Carolina Country Music Festival could once again receive a sizable chunk of accommodations tax funding from the city of Myrtle Beach, despite some council members’ hesitance to fund an event that’s already receiving thousands of dollars worth of city resources for free.

In city council’s budget retreat Wednesday, council members settled on a $75,000 grant to the event’s organizers, who requested $100,000. The appropriation is the same as the music festival received in 2016.

However, Councilwoman Mary Jeffcoat initially suggested the concert instead receive $50,000, and Councilman Mike Lowder said he wanted to reconsider the grant altogether. CCMF also is expected to receive about $75,000 of in-kind services this year, meaning they will not be charged for some city resources like extra policing.

“They are getting a significant amount of money for in-kind services over last year, so my recommendation was we don’t give them anything in A-tax money,” Lowder said.

But Mayor John Rhodes replied that the event, which drew 25,000 people last year, draws the most visitors of any of the other entities council was discussing.

“We have to look at the magnitude of what the event is generating for this community in A-tax dollars,” he said.

Jeffcoat’s suggestion of decreasing instead of eliminating the contribution to CCMF was intended, she said, “with a message to them that next year, you get nothing.”

“This is a for-profit organization that I believe is making a good deal of money on this,” Jeffcoat said.

But Councilman Wayne Gray argued that there’s no prohibition against giving A-tax money to a for-profit group, and that it would be difficult to attach conditions to the money.

“It’s hard to obligate what a council may do 12 months later,” Gray said. Rhodes and three members of city council, including Gray, Lowder and Randal Wallace, face re-election this year.

City council also agreed on $50,000 for the annual Beach Ball Classic, a high school basketball tournament of which Rhodes is the executive director. Rhodes reported to the S.C. State Ethics Commission this year that he receives $50,000 from Beach Ball Classic, Inc.

The group’s funding is unchanged from last year.

Some other funding decisions on Wednesday included:

  • $30,000 for organizers of the Jazz Festival. The event received a $10,000 grant from each the city and the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce last year, in addition to almost $5,000 in in-kind services.
  • $100,000 for the Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum
  • $2,500 for Coastal Youth Ballet, half the amount of the year before
  • $75,000 for the Myrtle Beach Downtown Redevelopment Corp.
  • $30,000 for the Oceanfront Merchants Association. The group received no funding in 2016, when it requested $140,000 and a committee recommended giving the same amount.
  • $20,000 for Coastal Futbol Alliance, a $10,000 drop from the year before

City council will finalize its decisions next Tuesday, when it is expected to vote on the allocation of almost $900,000 in tax dollars. The grants would be disbursed this fiscal year.

Chloe Johnson: 843-626-0381, @_ChloeAJ

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