Here are the basics on the Horry County, Myrtle Beach lawsuit
Horry County Council will be holding a special meeting Wednesday to discuss the future of Interstate 73.
The meeting will focus on a contract between the county and the South Carolina Department of Transportation to build a portion of I-73 running through Horry County. In addition, the council will receive advice on the ongoing hospitality fee lawsuit.
It will start at 2 p.m. on Wednesday in the county council chambers in Conway.
Since it is a discussion of contractual matters, the conversation will take place behind closed doors in executive session. The council may publicly vote to terminate or keep the contract after coming out of executive session.
The contract itself started when Horry County voted to spend more than $40 million of yearly hospitality tax revenue on building I-73 and giving public safety departments additional funding.
Shortly after, the county entered the agreement with SCDOT, but no money ever changed hands.
Then the revenue the county hoped to fund I-73 became unusable when Myrtle Beach sued Horry County over the collection of the hospitality fee. With the money gone, Horry County Chairman Johnny Gardner said that “I-73 is dead.”
Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune said in May that her city didn’t want to kill I-73 when it decided to collect the hospitality tax itself; instead it was looking to protect its citizens’ best interests.
Once the lawsuit began, Horry County Council considered canceling the project in the spring but decided to wait on making a final decision. The council’s infrastructure and regulation department tabled the discussion to see if monies would return and to give staff time to work with SCDOT to resolve some issues in the contract.
“We’re facing deadlines, and we don’t have the money. It’s not fair to obligate this county to one dollar if we don’t know for sure,” Council Member Al Allen said in April.
Since then, Horry County has been barred from collecting a 1.5 percent portion of the hospitality fee in municipal limits until the lawsuit is resolved.
The county is currently appealing the decision that keeps it from collecting the fee for the duration of the lawsuit. Once the appeal is settled, the issue will go on to full trial.