NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – North Myrtle Beach voters decided they did not want a 1 percent tourism development fee implemented within the city.
During Tuesday’s referendum vote, 3,050 “no” votes were cast, compared to just 188 “yes” ballots, according to unofficial results.
There are roughly 15,000 registered voters in North Myrtle Beach, according to election officials, meaning Tuesday’s turnout was around 22 percent.
If the tax had been approved, it would have applied to everything purchased within the city limits. The only exception would have been unprepared food purchases.
In the first year, the tax could have generated around $8.5 million for the city, and the city council would have determined a designated marketing organization, such as the local chamber of commerce, to help bring in more tourists to the area.
That organization would have received all of the $8.5 million to market North Myrtle Beach. After the first year, the city would have received 20 percent of the tax for use in a property tax credit or for some infrastructure projects.
Some voters agreed with being given the chance to decide for themselves if the proposed sales tax was a good thing.
“Absolutely you better give residents the chance to vote, especially for people around here who mostly aren’t from here. They aren’t used to having people just levy taxes on them willy-nilly,” said Paul Miller, who just recently moved to North Myrtle Beach.
There were signs posted around town over the weekend that read, “Vote yes TDF for public safety.” The problem is no one knows who actually posted the signs and the message was deceiving.
City leaders said they had nothing to do with the signs and that none of the revenue from the TDF, if passed, would have gone to public safety.
“I think it’s very misleading and the people I’ve spoken to are like, ‘what in the world what should we do?’ said resident Bonnie Baldwin. “We just have to be informed. You know, the signs are tricky.”
Some residents said the signs actually made them want to get out and make sure their vote was counted.
“My suspicion is it will go buy a better desk for an administrator and nothing more,” Miller said.
While city leaders also consider the signs to be very misleading and deny posting them, they said their placement does not violate an ordinance so they can’t remove them.
George Durant, vice president of tourism development for the North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce, said the organization also had nothing to do with the signs.
The official results of Tuesday’s TDF vote will be certified at city hall Thursday at 10 a.m.
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