By Paul Gable
The Tourism Development Fee, otherwise known as the reverse Robin Hood tourism ad sales tax, is again in the news as Myrtle Beach city and Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce officials continue to attempt to justify it.
They speak of capital improvement projects and reduced property tax for owner occupied homes in the city as well as possibilities of extending the tourism base for local business.
What we don’t hear about is how the motel and restaurant owners were able to decrease their advertising budgets in excess of 90 percent, allowing them to put more money in their pockets, while the maids, waitresses and bus boys they pay minimum wage to pay more tax.
It is the only local option sales tax in state history that did not require a ballot referendum to become law thanks to the efforts of our local legislative delegation.
In my opinion, it is literally robbing from the poor to pay the rich, but that is what oligarchies are about.
Even worse, until someone proves otherwise, the tax also appears to be the impetus behind the Coastal Kickback scandal. Remember, immediately after the tax became law, questionable campaign donations, to the tune of approximately $325,000 went, from LLC’s that either had no revenue or had been dissolved, to local and state elected officials.
Add to the above, those same elected officials, who were so concerned about expanding tourism that they needed the sales tax to increase tourism marketing, have done everything in their power to kill bike weeks in Horry County and you really have to question what is really going on here.
The oligarchy remains firmly in power in Myrtle Beach. The sales tax for tourism was supposed to have a 10-year sunset provision, but city council wants the General Assembly to change that provision so it can continue indefinitely.
Additionally, the same Myrtle Beach city council is encouraging Horry County council to extend the portion of the hospitality tax that is used for roads in the county to fund I-73 from Dillon to Horry County. Every citizen in Horry County pays hospitality tax when they patronize restaurants, convenience stores and the delicatessen at grocery stores, among other things.
Local option sales taxes are the gifts that keep on giving from the many to the few.
A word to the wise, we are currently in a special election campaign for Horry County Council chairman and Myrtle Beach city elections come this November.