The Carolina Country Music Fest will receive $75,000 in accommodation tax revenue to promote its second concert series this June, but no funds have been appropriated yet for the city-based, nonprofit Oceanfront Merchants Association.
Councilman Wayne Gray proposed that council members meet with the Oceanfront Merchants Association to discuss its plans and goals before deciding how much to give the group at a special called council meeting Tuesday morning. The council agreed.
Mayor pro-tem Mike Lowder voted against the measure to give the Carolina Country Music Fest $75,000 in accommodation tax (a-tax) funds, after the city agreed last month to give the group $108,000 in in-kind services to police and clean up the event.
Lowder noted two weeks ago that groups shouldn’t be allowed to double dip in city coffers, especially after the council denied a local organization receiving a-tax money $2,800 in in-kind services for a St. Patrick’s Day event.
The Oceanfront Merchants Association, which organizes the holiday party, ended up canceling it this year.
OMA received $140,000 last year in a-tax grants to help promote tourism events throughout the year. This year, the group asked for $158,000, but Gray noted that the organization is currently without a president.
The city approved $762,000 in accommodation tax grants, leaving $135,000 left in the pot, but the council agreed to meet with OMA before deciding how much of that to give to the group.
Thirty-two groups, including three for-profit agencies, asked for $1.8 million in accommodations tax money this year to promote arts-, cultural- and tourism-related events.
The council has typically approved a-tax appropriations only for nonprofit agencies, according to city leaders, but giving to for-profit entities is not illegal under state law.
The state’s accommodations tax is collected when visitors pay to stay in area hotels and at other lodging. Under state law the tax revenue is to be used for advertising and promoting tourism-related activities that increase tourist attendance. Funds can also be used for additional city resources needed to accommodate increases in tourism, like law enforcement, highway and street maintenance and beach renourishment.
The council agreed to give the city $4,384,175 in accommodations tax money for the Fourth Avenue outfall project, beach renourishment, beach monitoring, Myrtle Beach Convention Center marketing, the international student outreach program, waterfront patrol and beach patrol.
The council agreed to make the following appropriations in a-tax grants to other agencies:
Baseball at the Beach Tournament - $40,000
Beach Ball Classic, Inc. - $50,000
Carolina Country Music Fest - $75,000
Carolina Master Chorale - $20,000
Children’s Museum of S.C. - $30,000
Claire Chapin Epps Family YMCA - $50,000
Coastal Futbol Alliance - $30,000
Coastal Uncorked - $50,000
Coastal Youth Ballet - $5,000
Crown of the Carolina Foundation - $10,000
Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum - $100,000
First Presbyterian Church Concerts, Inc. - $15,000
Kaaba Temple - $10,000
Long Bay Symphony - $50,000
Mingo Bay Classic Baseball Tournament - $15,000
Myrtle Beach Film Festival - $10,000
Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday - $40,000
Myrtle Beach Pelicans - $5,000
Native Sons Salt Games - $10,000
North South Game Committee, Inc. - $20,000
Palmetto Event Production, Inc. - $20,000
Palmetto Partners - $20,000
Palmetto Studios Arts Alliance - $25,000
South Atlantic Shrine Association - $40,000
Sons of Italy - $7,000
Waccamaw Arts & Crafts Guild - $15,000