Acting in her role as Vice Chairperson of the South Carolina Beach Advocates organization, North Myrtle Beach Mayor Marilyn Hatley traveled to Columbia, SC on March 31 to participate in a hearing on “Dedicated State Funding for Beach Preservation” sponsored by S.C. Senator George Campsen and S.C. Representative William Herbkersman. S.C. Representative Greg Duckworth was also present on the panel.
South Carolina Beach Advocates includes mayors and administrators from municipalities located along the South Carolina coast. It’s mission is to help educate decision makers and the public as to the economic, environmental, and civic benefits of South Carolina beaches.
During her remarks, Mayor Hatley said that the economic benefits resulting from beach preservation or renourishment do not accrue only to the beach communities. For example, the Grand Strand tourism industry contributes about $485 million each year to the state economy in state and local taxes. That revenue flows throughout all of South Carolina.
South Carolina beach counties contributed 72% of all the state Accommodations Tax revenues collected last year, with over $45 million of that revenue going directly into the state’s treasury each year. A “Robin Hood” provision in the state’s Accommodations Tax law redistributes a portion of all Accommodations Tax dollars collected to communities that do not have tourism.
Mayor Hatley also pointed out that, if one considers property ownership east of the Intracoastal Waterway along the South Carolina coast, it is again clear that our beaches are a statewide asset. Coastal property east of the Intracoastal Waterway is owned by someone in every county in South Carolina, and every state in the union.
In addition to Mayor Hatley, South Carolina Beach Advocates Executive Director Nicole Elko, Pawley’s Island Mayor Bill Otis, and Edisto Beach Mayor Jane Darby participated in providing testimony to the panel. The South Carolina Department of Health & Environmental Control and the South Carolina Parks, Recreation & Tourism Department also partnered with South Carolina Beach Advocates to encourage dedicated funding of beach preservation and renourishment.
“Our message is that South Carolina’s beaches are a statewide environmental treasure and a generator of revenue that require a strategic, long-term investment in regular maintenance,” Mayor Hatley said. “It just makes good sense. Revenue from our beaches positively impacts all of South Carolina and we should not have to start from scratch every time renourishment is determined by appropriate agencies to be necessary. We are not asking the state to do it all, only to establish dedicated funding for its share so that when we have to act to preserve our beaches, we can do so in a timely manner.”