S.C. Supreme Court to review Horry County’s appeal in hospitality fee dispute

S.C. Supreme Court to review Horry County’s appeal in hospitality fee dispute
The Horry County Council met previously this summer.

HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – The South Carolina Supreme Court will review Horry County’s appeal in its ongoing legal feud over hospitality fees.

That was the order signed Sept. 26 by Chief Justice Donald Beatty. It did not state when that review would begin or when an opinion might be issued.

It’s the latest chapter in a continuing fight between the county and Grand Strand cities over the collection of hospitality taxes.

Myrtle Beach filed a lawsuit in March, accusing the county of illegally collecting hospitality tax money without consent. At issue is a resolution passed in 1996 that allowed Horry County to collect a 1.5 percent hospitality tax.

That resolution was set to expire in 2017, but the county passed an ordinance in December 2016 that extends the Sunset Provision on the 1.5 percent hospitality fee to Jan. 1, 2022. City leaders said they did not give their consent to this.

The county planned to use a portion of the revenue to pay for Interstate 73.

Days before filing the lawsuit, Myrtle Beach city leaders approved their own fee structure, increasing its local accommodation tax from 0.5 percent to 3 percent, as well as passing a separate ordinance to impose a 2 percent hospitality tax.

Those fees went into effect July 1, and other municipalities followed suit by setting up their own fee structures.

Judges have sided with the cities and prevented Horry County from collecting its fees within the municipalities as the lawsuit moves through the court system.

In August, the S.C. Court of Appeals denied Horry County’s petition to have an injunction against the county collecting hospitality taxes within the municipalities overturned.

City and county leaders met in August for two days of mediation, but were not able to reach a resolution regarding the hospitality fee dispute.

By the end of August, the Horry County Council announced it will cancel its Interstate 73 contract with the South Carolina Department of Transportation within 90 days if they don’t have an agreement with the municipalities over who should control hospitality and accommodations taxes.

Prior to the decision on the I-73 contract, Myrtle Beach leaders said Horry County is still able to collect $22 million in hospitality fees from unincorporated areas.

See the timeline for a history of this dispute:

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