Myrtle Beach downtown redevelopment group to scale back event funding over next three years

Over the next three fiscal years, the Downtown Redevelopment Corp. plans to scale back the money it gives to events held in the DRC area, with the city of Myrtle Beach taking over all funding through the accommodations tax process.

The DRC awards about $300,000 in grants annually to organizations hosting events in downtown Myrtle Beach – defined as the area from Sixth Avenue South to 16th Avenue North, from the Atlantic Ocean to Oak Street and Broadway Street – board chairman Chuck Martino said.

The DRC gets the majority of it’s $1.4 million budget from the city’s parking meter revenue, which the city allocates to the organization through its budget.

Grant awards will be scaled back, with the 2016-2017 fiscal year being the last time organizations will get DRC funds for events.

“For years we’ve been saying, ‘we need to ween you off,’” Martino said of organizations that request money from DRC. “It’s time for the city to take back the reins on events. DRC best serves the city by focusing on redevelopment. ... But this doesn’t mean that the organization won’t be funded.”

City Manager John Pedersen, who also serves as DRC treasurer, said events DRC has supported in the past are able to receive funding through accommodations tax grants if they are approved.

The city expected to receive about $7.9 million in state accommodations tax revenue this fiscal year, which must be used for tourism expenses.

The Oceanfront Merchants Association receives the bulk of DRCs event spending, getting $173,000 this fiscal year – which ends June 30. That was a large cut from the previous year’s grant of $280,000.

Martino said he’d met with OMA representatives who he said understood the organization’s position.

“OMA has already asked for less money this year,” Martino said.

OMA Executive Director Peggy Iverson and President Chris Walker could not be reached Wednesday evening.

Martino said DRC also will stop paying for what it calls “enhanced services” downtown, with that expense going directly to the city.

Martino said DRC spends about $300,000 annually paying for the upkeep of the temporary and permanent restrooms, as well as the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk and Promenade and street scape. That amount also will be scaled back over the next three years.

“We’d been paying the city back for those things,” Martino said.

Pedersen said the city will pay for those things through the general fund going forward.

Martino told DRC board members that $600,000 will allow the organization to focus on redevelopment, especially in the south mixed-use area.

The south mixed-use area is defined as the area from First Avenue North to Seventh Avenue North and from the Atlantic Ocean to Kings Highway in Myrtle Beach. The DRC and City Council have put plans in motion to make that area a priority for redevelopment.

“So this is going to free up about $600,000 that the DRC can use for redevelopment,” Martino said.

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