According to Mark Kruea, public information director for Myrtle Beach: “When RIDE III kicks in county-wide on May 1, it will add one additional penny’s worth of tax to everything on the list except unprepared food, which will remain at zero. Beginning May 1, the county’s retail sales tax then will be 8 percent; Myrtle Beach’s will be 9 percent.”
Other tax rates to consider:
- Unprepared food purchasable with food stamps: 0 percent
- Prepared food (includes restaurant meals): 10.5 percent
- Retail sales (clothing, books, computers, etc.): 8 percent
- Other guest charges and sales at hotels, etc.: 8 percent
- Admission tickets: 7.5 percent
- Mixed liquor drinks: 10.5 percent to 15.5 percent
The South Carolina Department of Revenue reports there are some counties with no local option taxes; – their tax rate is only 6 percent. In Myrtle Beach, there are numerous additional fees for licenses, permits, utilities, property taxes, etc.
We taxpayers are in competition with local businesses that pay taxes. The city (taxpayers!) spent $62 million on a 400-room convention center hotel some 12 years ago because it was not economically feasible for private industry to do so.
We have the new $10 million entertainment complex in the works - at least taxpayers had an opportunity to vote on that - and a new completed $12.5 million sports center. These enterprises will not be breaking even any time soon.
The city provides accommodations taxes and free city services to an out-of-state for-profit company for the county music festival. The Downtown Redevelopment Commission (DRC) collects and disburses parking fees, taking away the rights of individuals to enjoy public beaches and driving people to areas such as Broadway at the Beach and The Market Common, where parking is free.
Why do we even have a DRC? Taxpayers should not be developers.
The current city budget is $188 million-plus, which is $50 million higher than it was just six years ago.
Two people with the city told me there is no way to decrease this budget. That is not true. Staff is currently working on an even higher budget for next year.
A city (taxpaying residents) is not a business that should be running business venues. A city is to provide for what we can’t do alone: infrastructure, zoning, planning, safety, security, recreational opportunities, including parks, public works, utilities, and the like.
It is time to elect fiscally-responsible City Council members and a mayor to create a welcoming, safe city, with clean beaches and minimal taxes and fees, while utilizing a stringent adherence to ethics in public management at all levels of city government.
The writer lives in Myrtle Beach.