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State lawmakers side with county against Myrtle Beach hospitality fee lawsuit

The state House delegation from Horry County Friday signaled their intention to intervened in the hospitality tax dispute between Myrtle Beach and the county with a bill blocking the city from collecting the funds directly from taxpayers.

The bill, H. 4597, would preserve the county’s authority in collecting the tourism tax, which is intended for infrastructure and other spending needs tied to tourism, said a statement from the delegation.

However, the state legislature adjourned Thursday. The bill would begin the legislative process in 2020 if the issue is not settled between the county and city councils.

“If Myrtle Beach is successful in its lawsuit, the result would diminish total hospitality tax collections in all jurisdictions of Horry County by one-third; that’s millions of dollars annually that would otherwise be available for roads and tourism related public safety,” said state Rep. Alan Clemmons.

State Rep. Heather Crawford said the city’s actions jeopardize vital funding for road and public safety needs for all residents from coastal cities to throughout the county.

“We all have some skin in the game here, that’s why it’s so important that we work together and take a comprehensive approach to solving this problem. If we are committed to doing what’s right, and if we’re focused on the good of the entire area, I’m confident we can overcome this challenge,” Crawford said.

State Rep. Russell Fry said the city’s refusal to meet with county officials and opting instead for a lawsuit does not “inspire a collaborative spirit.”

“It’s time for the games to stop,” Fry said.

Added state Rep. William Bailey: “Our citizens demand it and I hope we all pull together here. At the end of the day, we’re on the same team.”