AG: Myrtle Beach tourism ad money can't be used for beautification project

AG: Myrtle Beach tourism ad money can't be used for beautification project

Myrtle Beach leaders cannot legally divert tourism advertising dollars to a city beautification project, according to an opinion released this month by the state Attorney General’s Office. State Sen. Luke Rankin, R-Myrtle Beach, asked the attorney general's office to weigh in after the city contacted the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce about accessing tourism development fee (TDF) money on an annual basis, according to an AG opinion written by assistant attorney general Cydney Milling. Specifically, the city was seeking funding for a beautification project. “We are not clear as to what ‘beautification’ may entail,” Milling wrote. “This Office may only render opinions on issues of law and, unlike a court, cannot investigate and determine factual questions. … However, we believe beautification generally would not be considered tourism advertisement or promotion. Furthermore, we do not believe a beautification project generally would fall under the exceptions allowed.” Created in 2009, the 1% tourism development fee is collected on goods purchased inside the city limits. Most of the money goes toward marketing Myrtle Beach, though 20% is set aside for property tax credits for city residents and tourism-related building projects. Throughout the fee’s history, the Myrtle Beach chamber has been tasked with managing the city’s out-of-state advertising. It receives tens of millions of public dollars for that type of promotion. Rankin, who could not be reached for comment, wrote that he wanted clarification from the attorney general’s office because he didn’t see a legal way for the chamber to provide ongoing TDF ...
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