American Red Cross included in Myrtle Beach’s grants to outside agencies

Myrtle Beach City Council, which voted last week to grant $272,337 to outside agencies when they approved the budget for the 2014-2015 fiscal year, has decided to include $10,000 for the American Red Cross Coastal South Carolina chapter.

It is the first time the city has provided a grant to the organization since at least 2006, when Executive Director Nanci Conley began working there.

“This is huge,” she said. “Right now the city of Myrtle Beach is the only one that’s stepped up to the plate.”

Conley said in the past, the Red Cross has received money from North Myrtle Beach but the organization would not be getting any funds from the city this year.

“There are a lot of organizations out there that request funding,” North Myrtle Beach spokesman Pat Dowling said. “This was determined during the budget retreat. Council members didn’t give a reason for it.”

Myrtle Beach gives grants to outside agencies that provide services that potentially could be offered by the city, such as the Boys and Girls Club of the Grand Strand and New Directions.

Myrtle Beach council members initially chose only to grant money to 12 of the 14 organizations that it funded last year, matching the amounts given last year. During a council workshop last week, members decided to fund the Red Cross at $10,000 by cutting the amounts awarded to the 12 agencies by 3 percent.

Last year, the council initially matched the amount of money given the year prior, but ended up cutting 10 percent across the board to keep the amount awarded below the $285,000 budgeted for outside agencies.

To qualify for an outside agency grant, an organization must prove that they are doing something with a public purpose.

The proposed fiscal 2014-2015 budget allowed the city to grant $275,000 to outside agencies, down $10,000 from last year. That figure is determined by city staff members who look at the budget and estimate how much money the city can give in grants while being able to balance the budget, city manager Tom Leath said.

The city received requests totaling $784,519 from outside agencies for fiscal year 2014-2015, which begins July 1.

All of the available accommodations tax money goes toward tourism-related city expenses, such as beach renourishment and monitoring, convention center marketing and public safety. Organizations go through the process for accommodations tax money, but those grants come from the general fund.

Conley said the money would pay to train volunteers who help people in Horry, Georgetown and Williamsburg counties that are impacted by any disaster ranging from a single home fire to a hurricane. She said it costs $1,250 to supply a family of four’s immediate needs when they’ve been displaced by a fire.

City Council members said in April during a budget retreat that they will begin to scale back the amount of money it gives to outside agencies.