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Funding for I-73 heads to state Supreme Court, but officials close to agreement

If county and municipal leaders can’t reach an agreement soon on how to collect and spend hospitality fees, the matter could end up in the state’s Supreme Court for a final verdict.

Justices have agreed to hear an appeal of the case, which was filed by Horry County officials after losing a lower court verdict that gave municipalities the power to collect and spend the fees separately.

County officials originally extended the countywide fee’s collection period to use the money for local matching funds to build Interstate 73.

However, the City of Myrtle Beach and other localities don’t want the fees collected countywide, they want the opportunity to collect the money individually, but have signaled they’re willing to help fund Interstate 73.

Horry County spokeswoman Kelly Moore declined to comment as a matter of policy, and Myrtle Beach spokesman Mark Kruea said the city has not issued a statement regarding the Supreme Court’s decision to hear the case.

Horry County Councilman Johnny Vaught said skipping the appeals process and asking the Supreme Court to be prepared to hear the lawsuit was just part of the process. 

“I’m still hoping it won’t go that far and we can work something out,” Vaught said.

Vaught said county officials are “upbeat” that they are very close to reaching an agreement with the municipalities, but some details are still being negotiated. 

“We’re still working on it, is all I can say,” Vaught said.

Asked about the future of Interstate 73, Vaught responded: “I-73 is only dead if the funding is dead.”