September 2014 Meeting
Our first meeting after the summer break.
We met at Sam Snead’s Oak Grill and Tavern Restaurant in Carolina Forest. Everyone said that it was the best place we have met. The food was very good and the service was excellent.
Our main speaker was Edgar (Eddie) Dyer, Executive VP and Chief Operating Officer of Coastal Carolina University. Mr. Dyer has been selected as the Chairman of the Ride III Committee. The Ride III Committee is starting to look at future road projects now that the RIDE II penny tax has expired. (Note: If you see that you are still being charged for the One-Cent Capital Project Sales Tax, please call the South Carolina Department of Revenue at (803) 898-5000. Retailers should have stopped charging this tax as of May 1, 2014. The current sales tax rates now in effect are: Myrtle Beach 8% and the rest of Horry County is 7%.)
Chairman Dyer stated what most of us know–that Horry County is a donor county; that is, we send more tax monies to Columbia than we get back. Other counties like Richland, Spartanburg and Greenville counties receive more tax monies from Columbia than they pay in. We need to work with our legislative delegation to see if we can get this changed.
We currently have multiple committees looking at transportation in our county:
- Area Council on Transportation (ACT);
- Council of Myrtle Beach Organizations (COMBO) – an organization committed to promoting the Myrtle Beach area and lobby for transportation infrastructure;
- Grand Strand Area Transportation Study (GSATS) — the designated metropolitan planning organization that develops a Long Range Transportation Plan, which is the 25-year transportation vision for the metropolitan area.
All of these committees work together to gain a consensus of county transportation needs.
The Road Improvement Development Effort or RIDE program started in 1996.
- RIDE I – Road Improvement and Development Effort or RIDE created or improved 23 road projects in Horry County, South Carolina, including Carolina Bays Parkway, Veterans Highway and Robert Grissom Parkway. The first phase, cost $1.1 billion, and is being paid for by hospitality taxes; this tax continues through 2023.
- RIDE II – Riding On A Penny – a One-Cent Capital Projects Sales Tax for roads in Horry County that collected $425,307,500 over the seven-year life of the tax. See Riding On A Penny for more details. The Ride II projects are slated to be completed within three years from now.
- Horry County Council approved Resolution 38-14 on May 13, 2014 to establish a RIDE III advisory committee to review the status of ongoing projects; develop a prioritization method; identify additional road needs within Horry County and prioritize them; study potential funding mechanisms; formulate solutions as part of a long term plan.
The RIDE III committee is made up of 11 members appointed by County Council, 6 members appointed by the League of Cities and the Chairman appointed by County Council Chairman, Mark Lazarus. There are total of 18 people on the committee. Be sure to contact your representative on this committee to share your thoughts and concerns.
Chairman Dyer shared with us that there were 103 prioritized projects that did not make the final cut from the RIDE II program. When the committee looks at the priorities, they will use this list as input while realizing that needs have changed since this list was put together eight years ago. An additional 100 projects have been identified so far. It is projected that the total collections for the RIDE III program will be around $530 million.
Mr. Dyer also noted that we may need to look at rail and mass transit (not RTA).
The selection criteria may be similar to the RIDE II criteria which were based on:
- Level of Service (Peak Hour Volumes)
- Safety (Critical Crash Rates, Density, Severity)
- Connectivity (effective interconnected transportation system that is coordinated
with state and local planning efforts to support thriving communities)
- Environmental responsibility (sustain natural and
cultural resources by minimizing and mitigating the impacts of state transportation improvements.)
- Mobility (Identify congested locations and bottlenecks–advance the efficient and
reliable movement of people and goods throughout the state.)
These criteria take into account the existing congestion with a look to providing relief for local residents this time around rather than a focus on assisting tourist ease of navigation.
Eddie also noted that the local environmental groups have held up several RIDE II projects for a couple of years and we can expect some of this with RIDE III. A new twist is that these groups are now buying land in the rights of way for some of the projects. This will only make it much harder to complete some of these projects.
The RIDE III committee is due to report their recommendations to the County Council next summer. If the prioritized list is approved, a sales tax committee will be formed to develop a referendum to be placed on the November 2016 general election ballot. It is projected that tourists will be paying $3 out of every $4 collected in sales tax. The committee may opt to not go with a penny sales tax and choose some other funding option. Some of the other funding options include: (Note: Dead set against using bonds or any borrowing.)
- Accommodations tax
- Hospitality fees
- Gasoline tax
- Timeshare tax
- User fees (tolls)
- Municipal using districts
- Special tax districts
- Solid Waste Authority tonnage fees
- Gasoline tax revenue sharing (half to state/half to counties)
- Developer impact fees
- Increased automobile/boat sales tax
I73 is not going to be a part of this effort. I73is more of a regional impact and needs to be handled by Congressman Rice and the rest of the US Senate and Congressional delegation. We couldn’t go past the county line anyway and Marion County cannot afford to fund their share.
The RIDE III Committee meetings are open to the public. You can find out when the next committee meeting is scheduled by looking at the County Calendar of Meetings.
We also spent time talking about the Horry County Economic Develop Corporation. As many of you know, it has been in the news recently: hiring a new President, Council unsure of need, funding is a question because of disagreement on how many new jobs have been brought in by the EDC over the last 2 years. We encourage you to talk with our councilman and let him know of your issues and concerns. Can this money be better spent elsewhere?
Bren shared with the group our wonderful experience with Tom Rice while we were in Washington, DC for the Christians United for Israel (CUFI) Conference. Tom personally took our small group on a tour of the Capital Building showing us many things that are not on the normal tour. Thanks Tom!
Our next meeting is on October 30 at Uncle John’s Family Restaurant at the Dayton House Resort located at 402 24th Ave N, Myrtle Beach, SC. The meeting will start at 11:30 with speakers scheduled to start at Noon. Come, join us and bring a friend.