Letters to the Editor

Don’t extend the tourism tax sunset date

Re May 16 article, “MB leaders ponder tax extension”

Taxes of any kind or type will always tend to be unfair or unpopular to someone or some group of people. Taxes are a necessary evil; they are the price we pay for our standard of living and the benefits that we enjoy, with out them our standard of living would be very limited.

Now to the 1 cent tax imposed by the Myrtle Beach City council about four years ago. There was no vote by the public on the tax, it was just passed quietly by the City Council. The tax is imposed on almost everything that is purchased in any store or restaurant within the Myrtle Beach 29588 ZIP code area.

The stated purpose given to the public was that the tax was to help fund tourism in and around the Myrtle Beach area, through the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. As with most nonprofit organizations, the question always arises of “Where does the money go?” Importantly, we need complete transparency at the organization, as to salaries of top executives, expenses of running the tax free business, and in the case of the chamber and tourism, how much is actually spent, where is it spent and whether the money is being spent in a economical way.

To my knowledge, there has never been a believable accounting of the transfer of money from the city of Myrtle Beach to the chamber. If there is any transparency at all of the movement of large amounts of money from the city of Myrtle Beach to the chamber, the transactions are clouded in secrecy.

As I said, most taxes are fairly fair and necessary, however the 1 cent Myrtle Beach tax in my opinion doesn’t even come close to being fair or necessary. It appears the biggest benefit that is derived from the tax is being touted as residents receiving an 88 percent reduction of property taxes over the past four years. Only those who live within the boundaries of the city of Myrtle Beach are receiving this windfall. I very strongly object to paying a small number of people’s property taxes, by using part of the 1 percent tax, some of which I have to pay.

The recent article in The Sun News also said that the 1 cent tax has a sunset time frame of 10 years, which is about six years away. According to the article the officials “are just talking about it now” and nothing could be done about changing the sunset date until at least next year.

It seems that all of a sudden the head of the chamber and the City Council made a huge discovery, that in another six years all of the 1 cent money will go away, all that wonderful money will be no more. There will be no more reductions in property taxes for the people of the city of Myrtle Beach, no more huge amounts of money coming into the chamber’s possession to be spent on the so called tourism quest with little or no accountability. What do we do? Oh yes, all we need to do is get the state to extend the sunset date beyond the agreed upon 10 years.

I strongly disagree with this thought process and the so-called casual discussion of the idea.

If those people who are in power now can’t figure out a solution to this problem that they agreed to four years ago, then they need to step aside and let someone who is honest and has the welfare of all the people in Horry County at heart take over. The biggest problem that the City Council has is deciding how to tell the residents of Myrtle Beach that the reduction of property tax is going to end. That will be a blow to their finances. I do realize that these same people have been paying the 1 cent sales tax along with everyone else, but they are the only ones in Horry County that are getting the 88 percent reduction in property tax over the last four years.

The writer lives in Myrtle Beach.

Editor’s note: Data on the salaries of the chamber’s top executives and their business costs is available online via the tax forms the nonprofit submits to the IRS. Data on tourism spending has recently been updated and is available at www.myrtlebeachareamarketing.com.