Letters to the Editor

Letter | Myrtle Beach Councilman: Tax increases, buying property sometimes necessary

Mrs. Burton:

Thank you for your email expressing your concerns on a number of issues. I will attempt to answer them below one at a time.

1) The Performing Arts Center | - In a nutshell, we had a referendum, and it won. I see your point concerning the other venues, size of the electorate that voted, and cost of operations, etc. However, the election was advertised, the question on the ballot was clear, and the electorate voted with a substantial margin for the center. That, in my mind, is not so easily discarded.

The facility will have to have bonds sold in order to build, and the $9.8 million would come from that. We do not have that money in cash.

I like the idea of making a more versatile facility at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, a performing arts center that is also an amphitheater; that idea is being hashed out by the city staff. If you feel you must contact the federal government about the Americans with Disabilities Act, feel free. There will be parking for handicapped patrons at whatever facility is eventually built.

2) The purchase of property in the city | This property was bought to house more city and Downtown Redevelopment office space. It is necessary at times for a government to purchase property to resolve needs, in this case, office space, for both the DRC and our Risk Assessment and Insurance people. While it is not yet on the drawing board, there may in the future be a need to buy property, and when that need arises, if the explanation is one that makes sense to me, I certainly will not have an issue with it.

More parking facilities comes to mind as a possible reason to buy land in the future.

3) Chapin Library | The city of Myrtle Beach is one of the only cities that has a city library in South Carolina. It was a gift to the city from the Chapin family many years ago. We have in recent years discussed a transfer of the facility to the county, but we have never been able to come to an agreement, though they do give us some money to run the library.

4) Why you pay county and city taxes | Other than the library, we also provide the city with ambulance service above and beyond the service provided for by the county. Ambulance service times are far faster in the city due to the city providing this service on top of that the county provides. We have three ambulances in the city; the county has one. It is a matter of whether or not we think it is important to provide three times the coverage the county is providing. I do.

5) Parking during the festival | You, as a city resident, should have free parking at the meters. I will have to find out exactly what was going on to the various parking spots during this past music event. I honestly do not know why you would have been unable to park other than if availability was completely gone. I will have to get back to you on that one. This was the first time we have had the Country Music Festival or a special event of this size downtown, and we will have to address the issues that arise as we learn of them.

6) The city raising taxes | We have raised taxes only twice in 14 years. We gave half of the taxes back in the first year of the tax increase in 2009. We raised taxes both times to cover expenses dealing with the motorcycle rallies. Neither of the rallies in 2009 nor the one now are, or have ever been, sponsored by the city of Myrtle Beach. We also provided 82 percent property tax relief after the passage of the Tourism Development fee for homeowners in the city.

I hope this answers your concerns, and if I can ever be of further assistance to you as your city councilman, please do not hesitate to call me at (843) 602-3845.

The writer is a Myrtle Beach City Councilman.