Support of the Tourism Development Fee
Thursday, December 7th, 2017
We are thrilled the city is supporting the Tourism Development Fee referendum, which has the potential to benefit North Myrtle Beach residents and boost our economy for years to come.
Citizens should clearly know, however, that under the proposed language from the City, which we have just learned, that residents will only enjoy a fraction of the financial benefits allowed by this statewide bill. Why?
First, let’s do the math. By law, 80% of the predominantly visitor-paid fee would be reinvested to stimulate a tourist economy that makes this small town an incredible place to live and work. The remaining 20% goes to the City and can be rebated to the citizenry in the form of a property tax rebate.
The City of North Myrtle Beach, however, would like to retain 80% of that tax relief available to citizens by law. Essentially, the City intends to keep the vast majority of this tax relief for themselves for capital improvements. If the city is truly supporting its citizens’ rights under this unique bill, they would be advocating the full 20% going back to North Myrtle Beach residents. We are extremely confused as to why they wouldn't want the citizens of North Myrtle Beach to garner the full amount allowed for them. Here’s another mathematical fact: the City's figures on potential tax rebates for residents are artificially low, simply because the City is not passing the full 20% allowed on to the citizens...a fact that they have never disclosed.
Additionally, the City's Public Information Officer stated, “after heated debate…some council members want the voters to decide”. And as Councilwoman Nikki Fontana stated at the Monday, December 4, City Council meeting, she "wanted to put this to bed, once and for all”. We at the Chamber can only hope this is not political retaliation. The Chamber, in fact, did not endorse a candidate or provide PAC money to any candidates.
We are, on the other hand, supportive of the referendum to be voted on as the law allows…with 80% of the fee to be spent by the Chamber for marketing North Myrtle Beach’s family destination brand (and definitely NOT marketing of individual businesses, as has been erroneously suggested).
Residents should also appreciate that this fee is primarily paid for by visitors and will have minimal impact on the year-round resident. Rather, it will be assessed on retail items such as playing golf, attraction tickets, restaurant meals, or prepared meals and accommodations, such as hotels.
Succinctly stated, the Chamber would like the citizens to receive the full 20% allowed by the TDF bill in a tax rebate. The citizens deserve nothing less. As it was stated numerous times during the elections, the City has $30-$35 million in reserves, so there is confusion as to why they would want to keep a large percentage of the TDF that could benefit the citizens directly.
In the end, the citizens of NMB deserve tax incentives, while providing another way for our all-important tourism industry to benefit. The NMB Chamber of Commerce and Convention & Visitors Bureau views this as a win for the citizens, a win for the sustainable prosperity of the City of North Myrtle Beach, and a win for the Chamber's continued successful marketing efforts…efforts that in November 2017, alone twice received national recognition as a top tourist destination, as well as this year’s Mercury Award of Excellence for Crisis Communication in the wake of recent hurricanes.
We sincerely hope the City will have several public workshops to discuss the benefits of the TDF and to assist in the explanation of this wonderful opportunity for the citizens of North Myrtle Beach well in advance of the referendum vote slated for March 2018.