Several members of the Horry County Council promised to support Interstate 73.
Turns out those pledges are a sham.
How else to explain their votes this week against the very settlement they negotiated with Myrtle Beach to distribute hospitality fees and dedicate funding to move forward on the interstate?
Several on county council actually bragged they showed up to negotiate the settlement, while Myrtle Beach Council just sent lawyers in its stead.
If county council was so awesome at the negotiations table, how did they end up with such a terrible settlement they can’t possibly approve?
The answer is that many on council had no intention — no matter the settlement outcome — of funding an interstate connection to Horry County.
There’s no other explanation for the sheer multitude of lame and disingenuous excuses we heard during Monday’s special meeting.
The council did vote 7-5 to approve the settlement, but only after they threw in a monkey wrench that threatens to topple nearly a year of negotiations and send lawyers back to the drawing board to rack up more legal fees.
Here’s how Horry County Council voted on the hospitality fee settlement:
- Al Allen
- Johnny Gardner
- Danny Hardee
- Paul Prince
- Harold Worley
- Orton Bellamy
- Cam Crawford
- Bill Howard
- Gary Loftus
- Tyler Servant
- Dennis DiSabato
- Johnny Vaught
Opponents of I-73 on the council say the settlement will not cover all of their costs for the highway, so they shouldn’t pledge money to pay for any of it.
Instead of connecting the road to Interstate 95 for $1.5 billion, the opponents actually insisted the interstate should be built all the way to North Carolina, at double the cost.
But, then said they won’t support that, either.
Opponents also demanded the cart go before the horse.
They want the state and feds to kick in matching funds, before the county will even consider earmarking money for them to, uhm, match.
Opponents say the deal is no good, because the county is the only government paying for it.
Note to council: You can’t even agree on a pledge to spend the first dime, while the feds have already spent $86 million on I-73 to get shovels in the ground.
And when the feds say they will fund shovel-ready projects, they don’t mean with their own shovels.
The county has to have some skin in the game, and county council knows that.
One of the more artful dodges during the county council debate Monday was when some councilmen discovered that funding to raise S.C. 22 out of the flood plain was included in plans for constructing I-73.
Seriously, gentlemen, you committed funding for that study and directed state transportation officials to raise S.C. 22 in that contract you signed last year, and then canceled with the state a few weeks ago.
Then council tap danced their way over to U.S. 501 where state officials were already planning to raise that federal highway above flood levels.
Maybe council should take over that project instead of 22, or I-73, they mused.
The excuses went on, and on, and on.
The council debate was a three-ring circus with a hall of mirrors intended to confuse and misdirect the public from realizing they don’t really support I-73.
And just when it couldn’t get more bizarre, some county council members declared themselves the elected representatives of Myrtle Beach voters, and proceeded to instruct the Myrtle Beach Council on how to do the city’s business with its portion of the hospitality fees.
The result is, county council voted to support the settlement, but only if Myrtle Beach pays the city’s lawyers according to the county’s instructions.
We think the county has about as much business telling the city what to do, as the city has telling the county how to run its government.
The Myrtle Beach City Council will hold a special meeting at 10 a.m. this morning to address the county’s actions.
We can’t wait to hear their response.